The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has harped on the need to ensure standards at the nation’s ports in order for the nation to enjoy the full benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He however added that if there are no standards at the ports, the nation will end up as a dumping ground for all substandard products in the continent.
Aniebonam who said this last week in a chat with Shipping Position Daily in an event in Lagos also lauded the AfCFTA, saying that it creates a larger market for the nation, which will boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“AfCFTA is a good concept, we have said that from the beginning the larger the market the greater the productivity and the GDP will increase, but for us in NAGAFF we are worried because we know that if we are not careful Nigeria will become a dumping ground”
“Traditionally, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) is not found in the ports and if they are not found in the ports and the rules of the engagement are not made available to them it means the Nigeria will become a dumping ground. And therefore for us to get into the agreement we will be looking at the aspect whereby the issue of standards are brought to focus, so that Nigeria can be able to compete with other nationals, otherwise it will be too bad for us”, he warned.
Aniebonam blamed the poor implementation of laws as one of the major obstacles facing ease of doing business in Nigeria, even as he called on stakeholders in the sector to respect regulations.
“The laws are there and it is all about implementing those laws and that is on one part; the other part is protocol infrastructure through trade facilitation. What we need to do as stakeholders is to call for the need to respect regulations, government laws must be obeyed and if not obeyed, it is a problem and with that all of us must have agreed to create a bigger Nigeria”
He charged freight forwarders to be compliant in other to ensure that there is trade facilitation.
“One of the major problems in the ports today is low compliance by those who come to do business with the Customs and other agencies of the government. Business cannot be facilitated if there is no compliance. On the part of the government they cannot continue to talk about ease of doing business when the equipment are not working; look at the scanners and all that, nothing is working. It therefore calls for attention and collaboration to tackle the challenges”, he added.