By Innocent Orok
In preparation for Nigeria to reap the full benefits and opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), agreement when its kick- off in March 2020, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) said it will provide stakeholders support services, advisory services among others during the regime.
The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer (ES/CEO) of the NSC , Barr. Hassan Bello dropped the hint at the two day national workshop on the role of Maritime in the AfCFTA Agreement in Lagos on Tuesday.
The event was put up by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) to sensitize stakeholders on the benefits and challenges of the AfCFTA regime.
Hassan Bello who was represented at the workshop by Adaora Nwain, Chief Operating Officer, Trade Services, said that enhanced economic growth in the maritime industry under AfCFTA would not come automatically, but through concerted steps.
According to the Shippers’ Council boss, growth can only come through enhancing industrial productive capacity: trade facilitation agreement by introducing customs management reforms, implementing the trade facilitation agreement among others.
In providing support for stakeholders, Bello said the Council would provide cargo defence fund to shippers and trade groups to pursue their legitimate businesses.
He added that supervision of the establishment of transport services such as inland dry port, truck transit parks, border information centre, port services support portal will also enhanced the success of the continental trade deal in Nigeria.
He said ” We will Offer stakeholders advice on how to avoid pitfalls in their international trade.
Continuously advise the Federal Government on AfCFTA and other policy formulation and implementation in respect of shipping interests.
“Regular consultation with cross border practitioners and regional bodies for trade facilitation; regular representation of stakeholders on regional and sub-regional fora.
“Continuously organise seminars/workshop to educate stakeholders on international best practice. And continuously conduct research for the benefit of stakeholders; post expansion project, cross border, Trade processes, roads, rail infrastructure development, sea link project, improved and sustained trade corridor management,” he said.
Speaking further, Bello averred that the trade agreement constituted the most significant development in Africa’s integration efforts.
He added that it is expected that the free trade area will promote the development of manufacturing and agro-processing and with them, accelerated inclusive economic diversification and competitiveness across Africa.
He however advised that private sector, civil societies , development partners, media houses, financial institutions and the general public hands should be on deck for the success and for Nigeria to harness the presented opportunities in the AfCFTA deal.