Maritime agencies to chart path for trans-border trade

Heads of maritime agencies and other stakeholders are set to brainstorm on the most viable options available to Nigeria to make its trans-border trade more profitable.

This is just as Nigeria controls over 70 per cent of cargo throughput in the West and Central African region, which accounts for the largest volume of trade by any country in the region and also holds the potential to influence trade.

The heads of the agencies and stakeholders are expected to dialogue at the 2023 yearly conference and awards of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON), scheduled on December 14, 2023 in Lagos.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi is expected to chair the event with the theme: “Rebuilding Nigeria’s Economy Towards a Viable Transborder Trade,” while the heads of agencies in the maritime sector will make presentations regarding their roles in promoting trans-border trade in the country.

The President of AMJON, Paul Ogbuokiri, said illegal trade activities like smuggling have over the years, resulted in the Nigerian markets being flooded with products manufactured outside the country, which have one way or the other illegally gotten into the country.

He said that given President Bola Tinubu administration’s efforts to reposition the nation’s ailing economy anchored on his ‘Renewed Hope’ mantra, the theme of the conference has become imperative.

According to him, the conference seeks to identify the viability of opening up the nation’s economy for more importation without making the country vulnerable to dumping, weakened national currency, job loss, closure of industries and other likely challenges.

He said this is given the recent pact between the Nigeria Customs Service and the Customs Administration of Benin Republic, which allows for harmonisation of import policies and unification of cargo clearance procedures across borders.

He said objectives of the conference include, identifying impediments to trans-border trade like poor access roads – from Babana in Kwara State to Ilorin, Shaki in Oyo to Ibadan, Seme – Badagry in Lagos State, Igolo portion of Benin Republic leading to Nigeria. Others are slow pace on the reconstruction of the over two decades of the Apapa road, Onne, Calabar and Warri ports roads to encourage the Federal and State governments to address these critical infrastructural deficits.

Ogbuokiri added that the conference also aims at drawing maximum attention towards maximising the potentials of the blue economy, African Continental Free Trade Area ( AfCFTA) and exports among other international trade deals, which are widely acknowledged to be low-hanging fruits for economic diversification from a mono-cultural economy to a more viable, sustainable and environmentally-friendly source of sustenance for Nigeria.

He further noted that the conference also aims at engendering inter-agency and government/private sector collaborations to build capacity in the areas of indigenous investment, professional expertise and limitless opportunities for job creation, among other benefits.

On his part, the Chairman Planning Committee of the event, Innocent Orok said this year’s conference and awards is particularly targeted at educating importers, exporters, shippers, truckers, government agencies and maritime stakeholders on the viability of trans-border trade. Orok further stated that this year’s conference will also honour some patriotic Nigerians who have contributed their quotas to the growth and development of the sector.

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