FG to tackle trade challenges with new platform

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (cutting the tape); Chief John Odeyemi (left); Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye; President, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Babatunde Paul Ruwase; immediate past president of LCCI, Dr. Nike Akande, and National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Iyalode Alaba Lawson, at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair…yesterday.PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

• Nigeria Is Not Against Africa Trade Deal, Says Osinbajo
The Federal Government has announced plans to establish a single window to address issues of time and other challenges affecting the transaction cycle in bringing in goods, clearing and exporting same, noting that the unveiling of a new national trade platform with single window for imports and exports in few months will help to address the challenges of trade in the country.

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, explained that although the scheme is being delayed due to issues concerning individual Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) trying to align their various electronic platforms, he expressed optimism on the delivery of the promise by the FG in the shortest time.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had last year, established a Forex window for investors and exporters to boost liquidity in the forex market and ensure timely execution and settlement of eligible transactions.He acknowledged that Nigeria is still faced with lots of problems with import and export procedures, stressing that the national trade platform would address the challenge.

Osinbajo at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair, yesterday, said tax payments and remittances have also been simplified through the e-filing system by the Federal Inland Revenue System (FIRS), saying that importers and exporters are also not left out with the documentation required for imports and exports have been significantly reduced from 14 to 8 and 10 to 7. According to him, since 2016, the federal government had so far in the past two budget cycles spent N2.7 trillion in capital, which he said was mostly on infrastructure.

Relatedly, Osinbajo has also declared that the country is not against the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) deal, but only being careful to guard against its flop.

According to him, the Federal Government is taking due diligence and proper consultations from organised private sector and necessary stakeholders to ensure the country is ready for the deal. Osinbajo disclosed this at the 2018 Africa Trade Forum co-organised by the United Nations Economic Commission (ECA), the Rockefeller Foundation and Federal Government in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) in Lagos yesterday.

The vice president, who demonstrated his interest in the deal defy all odds to witness the one-and half hour to personally witness the plenary section of the programme, said if properly directed, the agreement would impact on the economy through capacity building, sharpening expertise and accelerated industrialisation growth.

Osinbajo said the presidential committee set up to evaluate the provisions of the deal are working assiduously to deliver their report soon, adding that the objective of the consultations was to improve on the standards, identify challenges and strength of the deal.
President, Dangote Group and Co-Chair AfroChampion Initiative, Aliko Dangote, said Nigeria needs to do proper feasibility study before engaging the deal.

Commissioner for Trade and Industry, AUC, Albert Muchanga, said 42 per cent of the AfCFTA is made up of manufacturing, stating that manufacturing stands as a key cluster to enhance capacity with focus on value addition. Muchanga said the focus of the deal is to boost industrialisation and ensure integration of the African continent.

Minister, for Industry Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelama, said Nigeria is only being careful in signing the agreement because some other pacts that have been signed earlier are not yielding desired results.Also speaking at the trade fair, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Babatunde Ruwase, said the chamber adopted a generic theme tagged “Connecting businesses, creating value” for the Lagos international trade fair, to underscore the importance of relationship and interactions among businesses for the purpose of wealth creation.He added that it was also to underline the value of interactions between producers and service providers; and the end users.

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