The World Bank is exploring ways through which it can help Nigeria ratify Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reached in Rotterdam, Netherlands in December 2013.
In pursuit of this, a team of the World Bank and WTO lead by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the WTO, Mr David Ademola Adejuwon and World Bank’s senior private sector development specialist for Trade Facilitation, Mr Manuel Henriques visited the Nigeria’s Shippers’ Council, economic regulator of the seaports, yesterday at the council’s headquarters in Lagos.
Speaking at the meeting, which also had officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other port stakeholders, Ambassador Adejuwon said the World Bank team would be visiting the seaports, borders and all trade related centres in the country to ascertain how it can come up with ways to help Nigeria ratify the TFA.
He noted that once the agreement is ratified by a critical mass of the WTO member states, the agreement would become binding on Nigeria, even though she fails to ratify the trade agreement. The TFA deals on how procedures and controls governing the movement of goods across national borders can be improved to reduce associated cost burdens and maximise efficiency while safeguarding legitimate regulatory objectives.
The WTO believes that business costs may be a direct function of collecting information and submitting declarations or an indirect consequence of border checks in the form of delays and associated time penalties, forgone business opportunities and reduced competitiveness.
Adejuwon said, “We planned to see some of the operations at seaports, borders and international airport in Lagos and would have a stakeholders workshop in Abuja on Thursday, to identify areas of link.
“We can’t assure that we can provide all the resources to be used for develop but we can generate documents that are needful for development.”
The leader of the World Bank team, Henriques said the intention is to partner with Shippers Council which has generous information on Nigeria’s international trade. He described the planned partnership as a marriage, which might have some unexpected outcome but must be maintained.
“So, it is important that we know what we are getting into,” he remarked.
In his response, the executive secretary of the Shippers’ Council, Mr Hassan Bello said it was an important issue to discuss trade facilitation.
He noted that Nigeria controls 75 per cent of trade in the whole of West Africa, but has a very low rate of ease of doing business by World Bank rating.
He said, “We have to have modernisation of laws and trade faciliattion. I’m happy to note that this is era of collaboration, coming together to solve problems.
NSC has participated in trade facilitation workshops across Africa, including the one held in Kenya.
“We are trying to see that we streamline operations of the port. The NSC as the economic regulator of the ports means that we have to support automation of the ports. The idea is to get better in competition because an importer has choice. He has options. He must consider cost and time factors in choosing his port of destination. We can’t continue things the way they are.
“I’m also excited about the ratifification of TFA. We also participated in the Rotterdam rule (convention) and it is time we begin to adopt these rules.
“We are working in Single Window project, stabilisation of trade, establishment of inland container deport, provision of trade information and also freight forwarding.
I wish to reiterate the resilience of NSC to support this–working for the ratification. the ranking of Nigeria in the ease of doing business is very important to us.