Shippers Council Partners PEBEC, Tackle Impediments to Export Trade in Nigeria

R-L: Shippers Council Director of Consumer Affairs, Chief Carjetan Agu, Director of Regulatory Services, Mrs Ifeoma Ezedinma, PEBEC Project Manager, Ayokunu Ojeniyi and Chief Executive Officer of XPT Logistics, Barr Kola Awe at the Multi-agency Stakeholders Enlightenment meeting organised by Shippers Council and PEBEC in Lagos on Tuesday

…Charges MDA’s to Publish SOPs Online with Timelines

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Nigerian Shippers Council has said that there is need for the Federal Government to create deliberate policies that would aggressively drive export trade, saying that this would enable the nation’s currency to be stable for several decades.

Executive Secretary of the Council, Hon Emmanuel Jime stated this at an event tagged “Multi-agency Stakeholders Enlightenment on Key Reforms of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council under the National Action Plan 7.0 on Agro-Export”

Faces of stakeholders at the meeting

The meeting held at Shippers Council headquarters in Apapa Lagos on Tuesday in collaboration with PEBEC.

Speaking at the event, Hon Jime who was represented by the Director of Regulatory Services, Mrs Ifeoma Ezedinma noted that there is need to find a lasting solution to challenges confronting Nigeria’s agro-export and other finished products.

He argued that the economic growth of Nigeria is hinged primarily on export. He however identified multiplicity of checks by government agencies and frequent clashes with security agencies as one of the impediments to export at the ports.

Jime said “In 2021, the statistics available shown that 1% increase in Agriculture products boosted our economic growth by 25%. This means that Nigeria has the potential to be much more, however, there are two challenges and impediments, one is access to markets and second one is access to finance for exports.

“Nigerians need access to finance to be able to sell their goods at the international market. It is not just the shipping line charges or terminal charges, the challenges starts from the farm, all the way before it even gets to the ports.

“We have yams in Nigeria, but it is being exported by Ghanaians, how does that happen? It would be good if Nigeria is really committed to facilitate trade and aggressively drive these policies that would enable trade both locally and internationally”

The Shippers Council boss noted that Nigeria now has Domestic Export Warehouses and Export Terminals which was given birth to by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC)

“We are aware that PEBEC gave birth to the domestic export warehouses and export terminals. These two facilities are supposed to collaborate with one another so that we don’t have charges duplicated in three places; export terminals, domestic warehouses as well as the ports.

“There is need to streamline activities because if the domestic warehouses are doing the same thing as the export terminals, they won’t be able to collaborate. If they are not doing the same thing, then they should complement one another.

“There has to be deliberate policies that would aggressively drive export in Nigeria. This would enable our currency to be stable for several decades” Jime stated

Jime admonished the Nigerian Police, especially as it concerns stopping of containers at ports, saying that the police has no such rights.

“It wouldn’t be nice for agencies to protect territories, the problems we have right now is that Customs is on one side and Police the other side, and both of them are checking cargoes, these are impediments.

“If Customs clears cargo, Police does not have the right or authority to detain the cargo. If the police have Intel on the cargo, you can follow it to the final destination and check it there since Police have access to everywhere, but not for them to congest our ports or the access roads. We see this problems on daily basis. Every of the agencies have their responsibilities cut out for them, so we should interface with one another, harmonise and facilitate trade.

“If the Shippers Council visit these agencies, it is not to fight them, but to solve problems” he said

Also speaking, PEBEC Project Manager, Mr Ayokunnu Ojeniyi said the Federal Government has now made it mandatory for Ministeries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to publish their procesaes and vital information on their websites with timeliness.

Speaking, Ojeniyi said “MDA’s are now mandated as a requirement to publish processes of licenses, permits, waivers, approvals and other vital information on their websites, this should also carry timelines.

“Each MDA’s are now required to identify processes, services that they render, and they have to give timelines to each of these processes and it has to be on their websites. The good news is that, this would empower Nigerian citizens to understand.

“Often times when you speak with people at the MDA’s, they give you different information.

The PEBEC Project Manager also said the Federal Government is creating a single customer interface at the ports and airports in order to ensure efficiency and eliminate corruption.

“This means that there has to be a joint inspection, led by the Nigeria Customs Service, different agencies would not be inspecting cargoes differently at the ports” he said

Speaking earlier in her opening remarks, Deputy Director Trade Services/RC under the Nigerian Shippers Council, Miss Adaora Nwonu stressed that the time has come for Nigeria as a nation to rely on fewer imports and more of exports.

“We have to live with fewer imports and more exports, thereby revamping and boosting our productive economy, I guess this is the time.

“This event is for us to look at these issues, the exporters are the primary focus for this event.

“How do we earn FOREX if not by our productive capacity and our ability to earn it with export of agro products and other finished products.

“The good intentions of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment in putting together the National Action Plan to facilitate and move every hindrance starting from documentation, payment, port logistics, charges and other processes, that we can overcome these challenges and get to the point where we can say yes, we are really an export driven economy” she said

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