• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Benefits seen for Nigeria as Abdulhamid emerges WTO council chair

Benefits seen for Nigeria as Abdulhamid emerges WTO council chair

Nigeria’s trade profile and relationship with other countries is expected to receive a boost following the appointment of Adamu Abdulhamid as the incoming chairperson of the Council for Trade in Goods at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The WTO on Tuesday announced that Abdulhamid will take over from Etienne Oudot de Dainville of France to head the council, which deals with issues such as market access, subsidies, and anti-dumping measures across various sectors.

Gabriel Idahosa, deputy president of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told BusinessDay that the emergence of Abdulhamid as the head of the council means he has access to both Nigeria and the WTO, and therefore he has in-depth understanding of both.

“Without being unduly biased, he will be able to state the Nigerian or general African perspective just like the current DG, Okonjo-Iweala, is able to do, and we are beginning to see some changes in the way the organisation now looks at Africa and other Third World countries,” he said.

Idahosa added that other members of the WTO will have better information, which they will not ordinarily have if they do not have a Nigerian at the table.

“WTO is about promoting trade, and Abdulhamid through his position can support Nigeria by seeing how we can improve our capacity in management of trade policies and facilitation while advising the government on how Nigeria can reduce its trade costs,” Muda Yusuf, chief executive officer of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise, said.

Yusuf said that under the WTO, there are opportunities for capacity building for institutions in charge of trade such as the Nigeria Customs Service and the maritime community, which will strengthen trade relations at the local, regional and global levels.

He added that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is of interest to the WTO as one of the largest trading blocs in the world will get the much-needed support required to fully utilize it.

Uchenna Uzo, faculty director, sales and marketing at Lagos Business School, said Africa’s interest will be represented at the global level, adding that it will also provide an opportunity to take a closer look at the AfCFTA.

“Since its implementation, the AfCFTA has been discussed on paper but its operationalisation still needs to be fine-tuned; in addition, this provides an opportunity to facilitate partnerships between global and local organisations to make trade more accessible especially in the retail sector, which is key for facilitating trade,” he said.

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Giving recommendations to the incoming chair, Uzo said it is better to focus on few strategic initiatives that will be effectively and efficiently executed with the inclusion of global and local players rather than committing to so many projects that may not be completed or accomplished.

Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics show that in 2022, Nigeria recorded the highest total trade figure in four years, achieving N52.38 trillion with a positive balance of N1.2 trillion.

During the review period, Nigeria’s imports stood at N25.59 trillion while exports were valued at N26.79 trillion, both of which were also the highest in four years.

The report revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2022, the major export trading partners were Spain, Netherlands, India, France and Indonesia while the major import trading partners were China, Belgium, India, Netherlands and the United States.

Top five traded agricultural products include superior quality cocoa beans, sesamum seeds, standard quality cocoa beans, soya beans seed and soya beans (excluding seed).