· As NSC, Borderless Alliance launch ETLS handbook
By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to grow the agro-export sector of the Nigerian economy and the West African sub region, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to revoke the ban on exportation of maize.
The Policy Facility Manager of West African Food Markets Programme, Mr. Noel Kossonou made this call during the launch of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalization Scheme ‘ETLS’ handbook by Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in collaboration with Borderless Alliance.
Kossonou stated that as a signatory to the ECOWAS trade facilitation treaty, Nigeria’s decision to ban the export of maize was in contradiction to the regional trade and regional integration agenda that the country is a party to.
Speaking with MMS Plus on the sidelines at the one-day workshop yesterday, he said, “Since 2007, we observed that Nigeria has placed a ban on the export of maize by an act of parliament which is contrary to the regional trade agreement. However, farmers in Nigeria especially in the Northern region have continued export maize out of the country but if there was no ban the revenue earning from the product would be enormous while it would also provide jobs for Nigerian teeming youths”
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NSC Hassan Bello promised that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme(ETLS) will not lead to dumping of goods in the country as alleged by some manufacturers.
Bello who was represented at the event by the Director, Consumer’s Affair of the Council, Chief Cajetan Agu, stressed that the public should jettison the notion that ECOWAS ETLS would see the country become a dumping ground.
Chief Agu urged Nigerian importers to be ready to compete favourably as the new initiative was in tandem with the World Trade Organization (WTO) standards.
“We are in a globalized world so you need to be ready to compete as a country. It is either you compete to survive or you perish and ETLS is an opportunity to grow competition and create a level playing field to guarantee economic survival for the sub-region” he said.
He assured that the Council was working assiduously to put in place some mechanisms to address the issue of dumping of goods in Nigeria, noting that those involved in dumping of goods will be apprehended and the appropriate penalty melted on them.
Chief Agu also stated that the purpose of the event was to create awareness among cross-border traders on the processes, procedures and documentation requirements guiding the import and export of processed cereal in West Africa.
According to him, the handbook was expected to remove obstacles to cross border trade even as it will benefit the small scale traders in West Africa by increasing their awareness on trade processes to boost their earnings from such trade.
“We must work assiduously to reduce these unnecessary costs by eliminating all the barriers to trade and make our products more competitive in international market” he added.
The ETLS handbook contains the processes and procedures that regulates the importation and exportation of selected cereals, such as maize, sorghum cassava and millet in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
In her presentation, the Advocacy Programme Adviser, Borderless Alliance, Mrs. Afua Eshun assured the public that the ETLS handbook would be uploaded on the company’s website and made available for download next week.
She also revealed that the scope of the handbook would be expanded to include other nations in West Africa, while she admonished stakeholders to engage the company on any challenge with the use of the handbook.
ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) is the main ECOWAS operational tool for promoting the West Africa region as a Free Trade Area. One of the objectives of the community which is the establishment of a common market through the liberalization of trade by the abolition, among Member States, of customs duties levied on imports and exports, and the abolition among Member States, of non-tariff barriers.