By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has said that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) should be suspended because, it is bills being paid by shippers, but it is not tied to any services.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had introduced the Trade Liberalization Scheme to establish a union among all member states in order to eliminate payment of duties and taxes and to protect goods produced in Member States.
In an exclusive chat DAILY TREND NEWS on Thursday, President of SALS, Rev. Jonathan Nicole lamented that there are so many misplaced priorities in the shipping trade, and this is tied to systemic collapse of ECOWAS protocols on trade facilitation.
Nicole condemned the reopening of land borders to Dangote Cement, BUA and some other beneficiaries who he described as “chosen ones” by the government.
According to him, shippers are paying the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme levy for no just cause.
“Infact, for every shipment, it does not justify the means, since we do not have access to the trade platforms. Time will tell, for now, they should suspend the ETLS scheme because it is over- reaching the Shippers with bills tied to nothing” he said
Nicole however appealed to Shippers for patience and calm, saying that the reopening of the borders to Dangote and others, could be government’s way of test-running the opening options of the border.
“The border is an International trading and movement of persons route. As it is, no one can move in and out through our Border posts with the exception of the “chosen Ones”. The bulk of Export cargo to and from other African Ecowas countries will be held up”
“There is a gross limitation on the part of stakeholders and indeed a bad signal. Exporters are already leaving the trade because of attendant bureaucratic issues, such as this”
“We believe that this is the beginning process of re-opening of our Borders. Afteral, we are not at war with any country”
“Let us be patient with our Government. They are doing rehearsals of re-opening of our trade routes. We pray that our export cargos are still available when they eventually open the routes” he said