By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
As Nigeria prepares towards the take off the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2020, the Nigeria Shippers Council has assured that it would provide stakeholders support, advisory services amongst other for the country to reap the full benefits and opportunities inherent in the deal.
The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer (ES/CEO) of the Council , Barr. Hassan Bello dropped the hint at the 2- day national workshop on the role of Maritime in the AfCFTA Agreement in Lagos.
Speaking at the event organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) to sensitize stakeholders on the benefits and challenges of the AfCFTA regime, the Shippers’ Council boss posited that growth can only come through enhancing industrial productive capacity: trade facilitation agreement by introducing customs management reforms, implementing the trade facilitation agreement among others.
Represented at the workshop by Mrs. Adaora Nwain, Chief Operating Officer, Trade Services, Bello said that enhanced economic growth in the maritime industry under AfCFTA would not come automatically, but through concerted steps.
In providing support for stakeholders, he said the Council would provide cargo defence fund to shippers and trade groups to pursue their legitimate businesses.
He added that supervision of the establishment of transport services such as inland dry port, truck transit parks, border information centre, port services support portal will also enhanced the success of the continental trade deal in Nigeria.
” We will Offer stakeholders advice on how to avoid pitfalls in their international trade.
Continuously advise the Federal Government on AfCFTA and other policy formulation and implementation in respect of shipping interests.
“Regular consultation with cross border practitioners and regional bodies for trade facilitation; regular representation of stakeholders on regional and sub-regional fora.
“Continuously organise seminars/workshop to educate stakeholders on international best practice. And continuously conduct research for the benefit of stakeholders; post expansion project, cross border, Trade processes, roads, rail infrastructure development, sea link project, improved and sustained trade corridor management,” he said.
Speaking further, Bello averred that the trade agreement constituted the most significant development in Africa’s integration efforts.
The Shippers Council boss added that it is expected that the free trade area will promote the development of manufacturing and agro-processing and with them, accelerated inclusive economic diversification and competitiveness across Africa.
He however advised that private sector, civil societies , development partners, media houses, financial institutions and the general public hands should be on deck for the success and for Nigeria to harness the opportunities inherent in the AfCFTA deal.