…… there is need to work more on awareness of the ETLS
L-R: Director of Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Chief Cajatan Agu, presenting a (ETLS) Handbook to representative of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dora Udegbe, Executive Secretary, Borderless Alliance, Mr Justin Bayili, Policy Facility Manager, West Africa Food Markets Programme (WAFM); Mr Noel Kossonou, during a one day workshop for the dissemination and launch of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization scheme (ETLS) Handbook for Cross- Border Traders yesterday in Lagos. The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC); Mr Hassan Bello has promised that the Economic Community of West Africa State(ECOWAS) Trade Liberalization Scheme(ETLS) will not lead to dumping of goods in Nigeria.
Bello gave the assurance yesterday in Lagos at a one day workshop for the dissemination and launch of ETLS handbook organized by the Shippers’ Council in collaboration with Borderless Alliance.
NSC Boss who was represented at the event by the Director of Consumer’s Affair of the Council; Chief Cajetan Agu, explained that Nigerians should not fear that the ECOWAS ETLS will turn the country into a dumping ground.
He charged Nigerian importers to be ready to compete favourably and stop thinking the country will turn to a dumping ground.
“We should try to remove the story or the connotation that when you liberalize trade, it will lead to dumping of goods in Nigeria. You see in WTO standard, the idea is either you compete to survive or you perish. We are in a globalized world so you need to be ready to compete as a country”, he pointed out.
The Shippers Council boss told the gathering that there are some mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that goods on transit are not dumped in the country.
“There are some mechanisms put in place to address the issue of dumping of goods in Nigeria. If those mechanisms are put in, place those who are involved in dumping of goods will be apprehended and the appropriate penalty melted on them”
Speaking on the handbook that was launched, he maintained that the essence of the ETLS is to ensure free movement of goods and services across the ECOWAS sub-region.
“The handbook as we rightly said is being launched by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in collaboration with the Borderless Alliance. You are aware that ECOWAS has signed a protocol agreement on trade, that is ECOWAS Trade Linearization Scheme (ETLS) and the essence of that agreement is for trade facilitation in the ECOWAS sub-region”, he said.
He added that barriers to trade increase the cost of trade, adding that Africa has the highest cost of transporting goods between origin and destination across all modes of transportation.
“We must work assiduously to reduce these unnecessary costs by eliminating all the barriers to trade and make our products more competitive in international market”, he urged.
Bello also explained that the removal of obstacles to intra-regional integration in the ECOWAS sub-region would be of benefit to small scale traders.
According to him, “removal of obstacles to intra-regional integration in the ECOWAS sub-region would be particularly beneficial to small scale traders that conduct cross border commerce within the sub-region. The potential benefit includes food security, job creation, poverty reduction, increased tax revenues for authorities and long term development outcomes”.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Executive Secretary of the Borderless Alliance, Justin Bayili said that there is need to work more on awareness of the ETLS.
“There have to be more awareness on this, if other regions can come together and do something, I don’t know why we the West Africans cannot do the same transit policy, but when you come to West Africa the condition is different”, he lamented.