By Yusuf Odejobi
In a bid to ensure Nigeria reaps massive gains from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has urged Nigerian stakeholders to understand and utilize international commercial terms (INCOTERMS) 2020.
Shippers’ Council, in collaboration with International Chamber of Commerce, Nigeria (ICCN) organized a One-day Sensitization Webinar on INCOTERMS 2020 in Lagos yesterday where experts underscored the importance of INCOTERMS in global trade and the new regional trade agreement.
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello stated that it is pertinent for every stakeholder in the trade and transport sector in Nigeria to be conversant with the INCOTERMS because it does not only apply to international trade, but also very relevant in domestic trade.
“When there is adequate understanding of the rules, it will go a long way in mitigating trade disputes and litigation and its waste of time and resources. AFCFTA commenced trading on 1st January, 2021 to create a single market and deepen the economic integration of the African continent. Nigeria must put in place all necessary measures to reap the biggest benefits of the AFCFTA as the biggest economy in Africa. Understanding and right application of INCOTERMS 2020 is very important for the Nigerian stakeholders to play significant roles in the working of the AFCFTA,” the NSC boss said.
Speakers who spoke on the theme of the Webinar “INCOTERMS 2020: A Necessity for Global Trade Transactions” stressed the need for the understanding of the terms and rules in order to mitigate disputes and litigations in international trade.
The Chief Executive Officer, Multimix Group, Dr. Obiora Madu posited that as AfCFTA begins implementation, Nigeria needs to get its act together and also continue sensitization across the board for importers, exporters and freight forwarders to understand INCOTERMS.
According to him, some freight forwarders don’t still understand the concept of INCOTERMS, “if we regulate international trade and you do not understand INCOTERMS then we have not started, and this is why it is very crucial,” he said.
He described INCOTERMS as the pivot in international, local and regional trade, adding that It defines the responsibilities and obligations of the exporters, buyer and also the shipping companies when transacting.
“It defines the responsibilities and obligations of the exporters, buyer and also the shipping companies when transacting. The biggest Chamber in the world International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) publishes this every 10 years religiously to show you how serious it is,” the logistics expert said.
Commenting on logistic business in Nigeria, he stated that logistics is upcoming but is being hampered seriously by deficit in infrastructures, such as the ports, roads and railways.
Also speaking, Managing Director Sofomax Consulting, Dr. Omolara Akanji, said that there is a need for Nigerians to understand international terms even as we’re doing free trade.
She stated that the free trade arrangements means duties are normalized all across the countries but it doesn’t mean that standards should be deficient. If you have a strong logistic control, you’ll be controlling your trade even if it’s free trade arrangements
Akanji opined that this is the time for Shippers’ Council and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to up their game to follow the standard rules of trade and standard logistics approach to avoid goods being dumped in the country.
Secretary-General, ICC, Nigeria, Mrs Olubunmi Osuntuyi, in her remarks said that the workshop is to sensitize stakeholders on INCOTERMS 2020 as a number of traders over the years have recorded loss of huge resources due to lack of knowledge of international procedures and conventions.
Osuntuyi urged the trading public to be sure of any contractual agreement before they appended their signature to avoid putting their resources at risk.
The first INCOTERMS was created in 1938 by ICC, in Paris. The rules are used worldwide in international and domestic contracts for the sale of goods and are recognized by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) as the global standard for the interpretation of the most common terms in foreign trade.