The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has urged the Federal Government to delay implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) for one year so as to get critical infrastructures in place.
Speaking at a roundtable session with members of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Apapa yesterday, founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam urged the federal government not to be in hurry to implement the agreement, warning that it could fail just like the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS)
Aniebonam who was represented by the legal adviser to the association, Barr Fred Akokia argued that the one year period would enable Nigeria put in place infrastructures that would make her get comparative advantage in the implementation of the agreement.
(NAGAFF) has criticized the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) saying that the association has not helped the image of Nigeria or giving accurate statistics that would help in harnessing the gains of the AFCTA.
NAGAFF advised the Federal Government to empower the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) in ensuring that goods exported and imported are of standard, so as to prevent smaller African countries rejecting made in Nigeria goods while they flood Nigerian markets with their own goods.
He said “People have said a lot about the agreement, not because the concept itself is bad, but there are so many things that ought to be put in place before the president signed the agreement so as to maximize our benefits”
“The benefits envisaged to come to Nigeria is actually going to other smaller countries, most of them have what it takes to manufacture goods”
He identified power failure, lack of standardization of goods produced in Nigeria among others as factors that may inhibit the country from benefiting from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).
According to him “We believe Government should have proper consultation with stakeholders in the country before implementing the agreement. Having a critical meeting with stakeholders like NAGAFF, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) among other prominent groups that will help the country to benefit maximally from the agreement.
” Looking at our population, this will be of great benefit to other producing African countries, who have things things to export and Nigeria is a very big market from them to benefit from.
“But what do we have to export, what are we producing that we want to export, we need to ask the so called Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) what they are producing, we know most of this people only repackaged goods.
“The government need to put the right infrastructure in place, our power supply must be steady, there is nothing we can produce without power supply so the government must look into this and ensure that this is put in place before implementing the agreement.
” Also the issue of standardization must be put in place, because we have issues in time past where some African countries where rejecting Nigeria products because it doesn’t meet up to standard.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we do know that metrology Is the science of measurement”
“Standard Is the component of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) that ensure: accuracy of measurements to the International system of units.
“We do also know that the Institution that provides and ensure; this accuracy and traceability of measurement in every country is the national metrology institution (NMI) which is domiciled In Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and located in Enugu state.
“We also know that NMI is the custodian of the national primary measurement standards for all field of measurements namely: mass, volume, length, pressure, temperature, force.
“It is therefore our informed opinion that building adequate infrastructure for metrology In Nigeria will provide the required confidence in made in Nigeria goods and serviced will be highly competitive”. He said.
The association urged the government to delay implementation of the agreement pending meeting with relevant stakeholders.
Aniebonam said that if necessary infrastructures are not put in place, Nigeria would become a dumping ground for goods made in smaller African countries.