By Godfrey Bivbere
Federal Government has been charged to eliminate identifiable man_made bottle_necks at the ports as a means of smoothing cargo trade in the country in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO) drive for trade facilitation.
National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, who made the call in Abuja, noted that trade facilitation is essentially to improve procedures and controls governing movement of goods so as to reduce associated cost burdens and maximize efficiency. Shittu in his paper titled , “Trade Facilitation:
Freight Forwarders Perspective” at the 2nd National shipping Conference, organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) stated that freight forwarders are currently at cross_roads and have to contend with issues which include long delays in issuance of Risk Assessment Reports (RAR), multiplicity of agencies in the ports, importers not complying with government’s import regulations and the lack of basic criteria for determining ex_factory prices for used cars by the customs.
The ANLCA boss lauded the Customs Service for establishing the Post Clearance Audit, adoption of x_ray scanning equipment for container examination, implementation of the Common External Tariff CET, conceived in response to the need to streamline and achieve a beneficial tariff structure for the sub_region as well as the establishment of a fast track clearance regime.
According to him ,“If various government authorities must inspect the goods, such inspection should be coordinated and if possible, carried out at the same time”, he counseled, and tasked Government authorities to allow advance lodgment of documentation, as well as allow certain category of goods to be released immediately on arrival at designated entry points”.
He enjoined Government to carry along the business community in its policy formulation agenda, particularly in the area of cost and benefit assessments of proposals, before introducing new requirements or prolonging existing rules for examination, inspection, control and testing of goods in international trade, explaining that the gestures would make the authorities better informed and such policies more enduring.