We ‘re automating to decongest ports – Enelamah

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Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, has said that prioritizing clearance of goods at the nation’s ports was a key focus of the federal government’s new strategies towards Ease of Doing Business, in the country.

He spoke in an interview at the end of the High-Level Policy Private Sector Trade and Investment Facilitation Partnership Forum, held in Abuja, last week.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah

According to him, the on-going automation (Single-Window) project and the rebuilding of roads the ports would result in decongesting the ports.

His words, “When it comes to the ports, it is an area of great interest and focus for us. There are several thing we must get right.  First is the basic infrastructure of the ports.  When you get to the ports in Lagos which are the busiest ports in the country, you will notice a lot of congestion because the ports are probably handling more cargoes than they can deal with.

“There are a lot of challenges with the roads that are used to exit goods from the ports which are receiving some attention right now.  But it is coming at a considerable pain because some of the roads are being rebuilt.

“There is also the idea of leveraging technology through a single window- using technology to hasten the processes.  All the people at the ports can then be at the back-end of the that electronic window and that is something that is receiving a lot of attention.

“We are not there yet but  is something between Ministries of Finance, Trade and Investment, Transport and of course Customs, NPA under the same umbrella of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council to ensure that we use the single window to decongest our ports.

“In terms of the Executive orders, they try to streamline who should be in the ports and who should be out. That work is on-going. Some of them are saying my work is very critical and they are saying until automation is there, I don’t have the tools so I can’t leave yet.  So it is a transition process that was meant to be shorter but which has not been completed yet so we some more investment in technology”

Multilateralism must give way to regionalism- Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had, at the forum, called for new strategies that would prioritise intra-African trade.

“This is true for our dear nation, as it true for our entire region. Without prejudice to the strategic value and necessity of multilateralism, never before has regionalism be as important as it today.

It is the starting point for market enlargement and the locus for all our efforts to integrate the market structures an establish supply chains.

“We must move from rhetoric to actions in developing our regional infrastructure and regional value chains.
Indeed we must see regionalism and multilateralism as being complementary. The former is an important stepping stone to the later.

“They are vehicles for enhancing development and mostly work in such a way that they serve the good of our nations and our people.”

The VP urged caution and action for African nations to benefit from the Trade facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which has come into effect.

He added that the proposed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) had no alternative and must succeed for the continent to survive.

Prof. Osinabjo said, “ Nigerian’s commitment to fostering regional integration through ECOWAS remains very strong indeed. Even as we lead the on-going negotiations to conclude by the end of this year, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). Along the CFTA, there is no plan B for us, we absolutely must succeed.

“On the World Trade Organisation Trade facilitation Agreement which has come into effect, Prof. Osinbajo said that the benefits would not be automatic for developing economies.

“According to WTO’s computable general equilibrium simulations presented in the world trade report 2015, export gains from the TFA would be 750billion and 1trillion dollars per annum.

“Developing countries in particular would see their export increase by 36% much more than for other categories of WTO members. And the WTO also predicts that the TFA if fully implemented, access to foreign markets will increase by 39% for developing countries and 60% for LDC’s, with potential gains of up to 50trillion dollars per annum for African export.

“But it will serve us well to pay some attention to the challenges that we would confront in accessing the gains of the facilitation agreement. The significant regulatory, legislative and infrastructure changes that needs to be made in accordance to the commitment that have been made, come with a cost; regulatory cost, infrastructural cost and training cost which may be considerable.”


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