National President, ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike

Sequel to the effective takeoff of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA, a trade and shipping expert has called for concerted action by relevant Federal Government agencies towards the effective implementation of the agreement in Nigeria.

Recall that the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations NOTN had issued guidelines for Nigerian firms with products for export to other AfCFTA members, which some believe are be cumbersome, as it contains unnecessary duplications.

National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, who spoke in an interview, warned that failure to sufficiently prepare Nigerian firms and products that would be showcased at the trade arena might turn the country into a dumping ground for other products made within the continent.

According to him, the relevant Federal Government agencies should work in concert with the various Small and Medium Scale Enterprise SMEs and other participating firms towards the creation of business clusters for the purposes of monitoring and product standardisation to enhance competitiveness.

He reminded them that Nigerian products would be competing with those from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa, which are more technologically advanced and are more economically stable with better infrastructure and lower cost of funds.

He also urged the government to work out a regime of incentives for the local producers, arguing that with the current harsh operating environment characterised by high interest rate, lack of power supply and the reliance on generators with attendant high cost of production and clumsy transport systems etc., would make the Nigerian products expensive and uncompetitive.

“We are talking about borderless trade relationship with about 57 member African countries, especially those from North and Southern Africa, especially Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and South Africa. Business clusters should be created in the various geopolitical zones for effective monitoring.

“Many of the countries that are participating in the trade are looking for destinations that have large markets in terms of population size and secondly countries that do not have enough locally made products and Nigeria falls into these categories, so we need to be careful”, he also said.

On the allegations of poor takeoff of the trade in the country, he noted it was too early to make such assessments, arguing that such novel trade project would have its teething problems, which would be addressed and the processes refined and perfected.

The NOTN had listed procedures and conditions for the export of products under the AfCFTA, which include the creation of bill of entry, attaching all relevant permits from government agencies including the Nigeria Export Promoting Council NEPC, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC etc. and securing reservation with shipping or airline company.

The next stage of the documentation is the application for the Nigeria Customs Service AfCFTA Certificate of Origin obtained after payment of the prescribed fees, which would be accompanied with Customs Bill of Entry, Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice and Certificate of Analysis, among others.