The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation (CILT) has challenged the Federal Government to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiation with high level of expertise.
An Assistant Director of the Institute; Mr Reynold Shodeinde, said on Thursday that good negotiating power would maximise the benefit of the agreement for Nigeria.
According to Shodeinde, there are positive and negative effects to every trade agreement and it is only through effective and efficient negotiations that the gains will be maximised.
He therefore urged the government to widen its consultation net and expand its preparatory table.
He said government should go beyond commerce, industry and investment to include pertinent professional bodies such as CILT for necessary dependable research intelligence that would guard the entire process of the agreement.
The director further urged that the ease of doing business in the country should be strengthened and enabling environment be created for both local and international investors.
Shodeinde, while commending the government for signing the agreement, said its delay however made Nigeria loose out to Ghana in housing the headquarters of the AfCFTA.
He said the delay also cost the country the opportunity of being the African Airline hub which would also be situated in Ghana.
He said all hope was not lost as Nigeria in spite of the delay still had so much to benefit from the agreement.
He said: ”Africa has a high propensity to consume and this has led to impoverishment of the member states.
“So if we key into this, there will be employment generation, market expansion, technology transfer, increased investment and involvement of more professionals.
“We can break into the frontiers of new markets, economics of scale, improved infrastructure and we will begin to take advantage of the Atlantic Ocean. Marine commerce and blue economy will be boosted.
“Road will be provided and built better for road haulage, aviation will boom for air cargo, maybe we will even have international pipeline transportation. So the advantages are enormous.”
Shodeinde however said that the agreement could result in some negative impact to the country if proper measures were not taken.
He said the country‘s rule of origin should not be made very tight.
He advised the government to negotiate on the protocols of trade facilitation, immigration matters, dispute resolution, ability to establish on foreign soil without denials or deprivation, exchange of goods and services, employment and labour issues.
He said if these were not deliberated, it would lead to infiltration of arms and ammunition, free movement of persons and capital, single trade of goods and commodities among other vices.
According to Shodeinde, there cannot be trade without transport and transport cannot be efficient without logistics that is the planning of transportation and other related matters.
“So when we begin to implement this agreement, there will be need for goods manufactured to move across borders.
“That will now lead to the requirements of sophisticated and knowledgeable individuals to handle this movement.
“It will require professional logisticians because if you do not put professionals at the hem of affairs when this comes up, all these downsides that we have mentioned will be the effect.
“And the logistics people need to work hand in hand with the various security personnel at a higher scale to make things work,” Shodeinde added.