Diversification: Shippers Council seeks simplification of non-oil export trade procedures
From left: President, Nigerian Association of Chambers Of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawson with Executive Secretary/CEO Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello,during a visit of members of the chamber to the council recently.
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Nigerian Shippers Council, the nation’s economic regulator for the ports has made a strong case for the simplification of non-oil export trade procedures and export promotion activities as part of efforts to boost the nation’s non-oil exports in line with Federal Government’s efforts at diversifying the economy from the current mono product export regime.
The council also believes that it has become imperative and urgent too to re-configure the nation’s various seaports to make them non-oil export complaint in line with international standards as parts of efforts to boost export activities.
Executive Secretary/CEO of council, Hassan Bello, who spoke last week when he played host to members of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry NACCIMA, who visited the council, observed that there was need to simplify export trade procedures, embark on aggressive export promotion activities in the country to boost non-oil export and ultimately diversify the economy from the current over-dependence on crude oil.
“Nigeria as a nation has to simplify her export procedure in line with international standards. We need to encourage export from the bank up to the seaports in line with Federal Government’s policy of diversifying the economy”, Bello said.
He however disclosed that the Federal Government was urgently working towards re-configuring the nation’s seaports to make them export trade compliant, which is currently being handled at the Presidency.
As a proof that the government was handling the issue of re-configuring the seaports at the very top level, he hinted that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed misgivings over the report of the 2,000 containers of exports that could not move due to problems associated with certification and other procedural issues and has also instructed relevant ministries and agencies to remedy the issues.
While commenting on the port reform programme, which brought in private terminal operators to handle cargo, he said that the exercise was a huge success, as it has greatly enhanced efficiency and competitiveness of the ports, despite the daunting challenges posed by poor road infrastructure.
He however expressed that hope that this challenge would soon be a thing of the past, given the current efforts of the government at infrastructural renewal as well as the expected completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport project, which would take the current pressure off Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports.
Meanwhile, President of NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, while speaking during the occasion, called on the Federal Government to replace some obsolete policies in Nigeria’s maritime industry, which he said are no longer in tune with modern global trade practices.
He argued that Nigeria cannot promote and boost non-oil export trade with obsolete policies that are not in tune with current realities in the international trade arena.
Managing Director of AM Bonded Terminal, Mr. Israel Ibanga, one of the stakeholders at the meeting had urged the council in partnership with other relevant government agencies to evolve a system whereby export containers would be handled in the off-dock terminals as against the current practice whereby they are handled in the conventional seaports.
He also took a swipe at shipping companies for the delay in refunding container deposits as well as the proliferation of government agencies, whose primary aim is to extort money from port users, a development, he said frustrates free flow of trade.
Meanwhile, maritime lawyer, Mr. Mike Igbokwe, SAN, one of the stakeholders at the event had urged the council to ensure that some maritime courses are introduced in Nigerian universities in line with the kind of training given to judges through the Seminar for Judges, to which Bello disclosed that the council was already in talks with the Nigerian Universities Commission NUC.