By Our Reporter
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has expressed concerns after identifying over 400 trade obstacles along the West African trade corridor.
The bottlenecks were identified through the Trade Obstacles Alert Mechanism (TOAM), the Executive Secretary of the Council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, disclosed at the weekend.
Jime said traders have continued to suffer bottlenecks particularly in border crossings as well as customs clearance processes.
The Executive Secretary spoke during a Sensitisation Workshop organised in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission on the awareness for the creation of professional organisations and stakeholders in Lagos.
Noting that trade barriers were so many, Jime disclosed that specific issues identified include “lengthy clearing terms, transit checkpoints with unwarranted delays, harassment, exorbitant illegal fees and demands for bribes, with far-reaching consequences”.
He expressed concerns that the barriers have been disrupting seamless flow of goods and pose a direct threat to regional integration endeavours.
Jime however disclosed that his Council as the ports economic regulator has been able to effectively address 49 percent of the issues,
He said this was through national focal point representatives with the support of advisory services from the International Trade Centre (ITC).
According to him, “In addition, the NSC’s Complaints Unit (CU) stands as a testament to our tireless efforts in resolving shipping-related issues. We understand that disputes and challenges can during trade transactions. Hence, we have dedicated resources and expertise to swiftly address these issues, ensuring that businesses can continue operations with minimal disruptions.
“Our commitment to fostering collaboration and harmonization among various stakeholders in the trade ecosystem is unwavering. We actively engage with other agencies, both within Nigeria and across West Africa, to align our efforts in promoting trade facilitation.
“NSC is at the forefront of advocating for the digitization of port processes. We recognise that the digital transformation of port operations is instrumental in streamlining trade, reducing bureaucracy, and enhancing transparency. Through advocacy and active, and consistently embarked on initiatives aimed at enhancing trade efficiency and reducing barriers to participation in the modernization of port systems, we aim to usher in an era of more efficient and responsive trade infrastructure.
“Our collective focus today revolves around a topic that is not only crucial but timely, given our region’s aspirations for economic growth and regional integration.”
He said that TOAM was operational in 15 ECOWAS member states, explaining that this clearly shows its potential to drive transformative change and enhance regional trade.