To spur favorable competitiveness in international trade, experts in the logistics supply chain have stressed the need for Nigeria to implement the provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) when it comes into force.
They argued that since Nigeria has ratified the TFA, the new regime would attract more investors and boost economic activities in the country, if properly implemented.
During the 7th Africa Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC) Fellowship Investiture and Induction Ceremony in Lagos, the Founder and Executive Chairman of GMC Logistics Limited, Sonny Allison, who spoke on "Trade Facilitation in Nigeria-The Nigerian Challenge", bemoaned the many challenges affecting trade facilitation in the country.
Allison, who was cynical about the future of the nation's economy based on its current state of affairs, recommended that government should prioritise trade facilitation actions, invest heavily on trade support infrastructure and reduce high revenue targets to plug leakages and curb sharp practices among others.
Notwithstanding the efforts made by the Nigeria Customs Service in enhancing trade facilitation, he said Nigeria is yet to attain the required standard.
According to him, with the advent of globalisation, trade facilitation in Nigeria became complex with bloated bureaucratic processes, sharp practices, increased stakeholders and consequently increased costs.
For trade facilitation to take place effectively and efficiently, four principles he said must be present, which include; transparency, simplification, harmonisation and standardisation.
Director-General, ACSC, Prof. Obiora Madu, who described trade facilitation as a process of reducing complexity and cost of trade transaction process, said until we change the way things are done in Nigeria, trade facilitation challenges would never be resolved.
He said with logistics supply chain, it can tackle all these issues, adding, "but we need infrastructure. Without good roads and rail, how do you move goods seamlessly?
"We are not competitive, ship don't to come here due to congestion. Moving a container from TinCan to Ikeja is N750,000. It is cheaper to bring a container from China to Lagos than to take it from Tincan to Ikeja. Businesses are groaning."
One of the fellow inductees, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Nigerian Shippers' Council, Cajetan Agu, who said automation is the way to go, called on government to implement the single window platform as it is not working in Nigeria.
He mentioned the reason why single window is working everywhere in Africa except in Nigeria, making it difficult for businesses to thrive.
According to him, "There is no single window in Nigeria. It is about integration of platforms. What we have is individual automation. Out of all the West African countries, it is only in Nigeria that the single window platform is yet to be implemented.
"There are some people benefiting from the status quo, trying as much as possible to pull us back, to ensure that these things don't work. Way forward is automation."