Stakeholders want trade barriers in ECOWAS region removed

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Some Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) stakeholders have stressed the urgent need to remove trade barriers in the sub-region.

The stakeholders, who made the call at a one-day workshop in Lagos State, urged Member Countries to adhere to trade conventions to revamp fortunes of the region.

The workshop, organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Borderless Alliance was tagged: “Trade and Transport Facilitation in Nigeria’’.

Four papers were presented at the workshop, which dwelled mostly on trade barriers encountered by trans-regional traders along Nigerian land borders.

The Chairman of the Programme, Mr Taju Olanrewaju, a former Area Controller of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said officials of government agencies were not helping matters.

“Implementation officials operating at our borders are doing things that inhibit free trade in the sub-region with so many of them making unreasonable demands on goods on transit.

“There is the need for the agencies to harmonise their `Standard Operation Formats’ to reduce numerous human contacts that encourage corruption,’’ Olanrewaju said.

Mr Justin Bayili, the Executive Secretary, Borderless Alliance presented the “Caravan Objectives’’, a compilation of what the concept aimed to achieve.

He said the concept would spur Nigeria to open another vista of revenue window from inter country trade.

“There ought to be a better appraisal of Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers on Benin and Nigeria Corridors to avoid Nigeria losing transit cargoes of neigbouring land-lock countries to other countries,’’ Bayili said.

Mr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) said as a regulatory agency, NSC had been on its toes to put-up templates to aid trade along the West African Corridor.

The secretary, who was represented by a Deputy Director in the agency, Mr Winners Anayo called for reduction of agencies operating at the borders.

“We are worried that a lot of officials are still operating along the border communities halting the Ease of Doing Business as directed by the Executive Order.

“The number of days it takes to transact business or shipment both in Nigeria ports and the Nigeria borders surpasses the number of days spent by shippers in other climes,’’ Bello said.

Mr Femi Odusanya, Vegetable Consultant, Mile 12 International Market, Lagos said almost all protocols of Member States were being flawed by operatives.

“They are making trade within the sub-region a difficult thing.’’

Odusanya said he ply the Ghana-Nigeria trade route on regular basis.

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