Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has tagged high cost of doing business in Nigeria, especially as regards imports and exports of goods and services, to the perennial ports congestion, multiple points of documentation as well as excessive human and vehicular traffic into the ports, saying Nigeria is losing several billions of dollars yearly to such abnormalities.
The national shippers’ agency added that the slow switch at the national ports to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), including electronic gate, electronic manifest submission, electronic pre-clearing avenues, electronic terminal delivery order, e-booking, e-shipping and e-payments, had also worsened cost of doing business and port operations.
Dabney Shall-Holma, director, commercial shipping services, NSC, while speaking in Abeokuta at a one-day seminar tagged ‘Promoting Economic Growth through Import and Export Trade’ organised by the NSC and Ogun State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, declared that it was high time Nigeria devised means of reducing human interaction and contact in port operations.
Shall-Holma, who decried cumbersome Nigerian trade procedures, particularly at the ports as a result of absence of compatible and holistic computer applications and processing that are indispensable in international trade, disclosed that the country had further fallen to low ranking of World Doing Business Index.
“Trade procedures in Nigeria have been an issue of major concern for both government and private sector over the years. Various studies have revealed that our ports are characterised by perennial congestion, cumbersome and multiple points of documentation, excessive human and vehicular traffic into the ports and other operational areas,” she said.
“It is known that inefficient trade transaction processes have led to a relatively high cost of doing business in Nigeria which has in turn resulted to a very low ranking of Nigeria on the World Doing Business Index. As at today, Nigeria is ranked 122 out of 183, which implies that the regulatory environment in the country is not favourable for starting and operating a business,” she added.
She, however, canvassed challenges-free trade facilitation through effective procedures and controls governing the movement of goods across the national borders and the ports, adding that the single window concept that allows stakeholders in international trade transactions to work together at a time for a common purpose must be fully encouraged and implemented.
Responding on behalf of Ogun State government, Bimbo Ashiru, commissioner for commerce and industry, stated that the workshop was timely and would go a long way in helping government’s intention to diversify economy, thereby making export of non-oil products easier and more effective.
Ashiru observed that the shippers’ seminar would acquaint the participants, who were mainly importers and exporters, with the intricacies of foreign trade procedures that would not only facilitate international trade but also contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth and development, just as he declared that effective trade facilitation would help industries to grow.
The commissioner commended the NSC for organising such seminar for importers and exporters, which would also affect the South-West economy and industrialisation, while urging the participants to utilise the workshop to critically examine the shipping problems in order to “find adequate solutions to major problems confronting international trade bordering on shipping problems”.
By: RAZAQ AYINLA