The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has urged the Federal Government to engage trade related agencies, traders and exporters on how to increase the country’s export portfolio.
NANTS President, Mr Ken Okuoha made the appeal on Monday in Abuja in an interview while reacting to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 7, at the 12th African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic signed agreement establishing AfCFTA.
“The Federal Government should call for a meeting between agencies of government related to trade and the traders and exporters in Nigeria, because, there is no country in Africa where you don’t find Nigerian traders.
“That meeting is very necessary in order to strategise on how to handhold Nigerian products and increase our portfolio of trade export from Nigeria to these countries now that it is hot, before others begin to take over. ’’
Okuoha stressed the need for government to invest in trade infrastructure for easy transportation of goods to other countries by producers and exporters.
“Trade infrastructure is very key; government should as matters of urgency embark on trade infrastructure, while we are looking at ways of solving the challenge of insecurity that is coming along with the AfCFTA.
“Trade infrastructure should be invested in, so that the producers and exporters will have an easy route to export, while we are also reducing the pediments and reversals of policies.
“That is where I stand.’’
The Legal Practitioner also underscored the need to ensure the standardisation of made in Nigerian goods, in order to make them pleasing outside the shores of Nigeria.
“Let the agencies of government that are responsible for standardisation, NAFDAC, SON now get up strongly, so that there will be standard, so that our goods will not be rejected outside the shores of this country.
“We should invest more in a diversified manner like South Africa has done,’’ he said.
Okuoha urged government to wake up to the reality facing the country in the AfCFTA agreement to ensure a diversified economy.
He said Nigeria should address the challenges posed by AfCFTA to benefit from the largesse and potentials of the agreement.
The AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments.
It covers Protocol on Trade in Goods and Services, Competition Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights.