By Franca Ofili
The West African Food Market Programme (WAFM) and the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) have called for speedy implementation of the ECOWAS common currency to reduce the challenges of currency exchange.
The call was part of a communiqué issued at the end of a capacity building workshop organised for Nigerian traders and exporters of agricultural produce on Customs Regional Trade Procedures in Abuja on Tuesday.
It was signed by Mr Ken Ukaoha, the President of NANTS.
The communiqué said that the workshop was aimed at equipping Nigerian traders and transporters with regional trade procedures and requirements, which include documentation to ease the movement of agricultural produce across the borders.
“There is need to fast-track the subject of ECOWAS common currency in order to give traders the opportunity of reducing the challenges of currency exchange, which distorts commercial transactions,” the communiqué stated said.
It called for electronic paper filing to reduce numerous documentations and human contacts that lead to illicit payments and unnecessary delays of goods.
The communiqué called for proper and adequate protection of goods in transit along the corridors for health reasons and compliance with standards as well as correct documentation.
It noted that with the huge population of Nigeria, only about 2,300 enterprises and 7,000 products were registered under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).
“This is very low in comparison with the overall population of businesses in Nigeria, and so reflects an abysmal performance in the country’s efforts at benefiting from regional trade.
“The need for popularisation of ETLS and regular sensitisation of the traders and enterprises is, therefore, required as well as continuous capacity building to improve the knowledge of traders on customs procedures,” it stated.
The communiqué advocated improvement in quality and standards of produce in Nigeria in order to take advantage of the opportunities available at the regional market.
In that regard, it added that a harmonised regional seed Council and traceability was required.
The communiqué stressed the need to move the ETLS desk from Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Industry, Trade and Investment.
It stated that the signing of the collaborative agreement with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) should be finalised to bolster training on regional trade procedures. (NAN)