Major industry stakeholders in the country have recommended that the federal government take full advantage of its coastal potentials and engage smaller countries in the sub region without maritime activities in achieving the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) benefits.
This was part of the recommendations made in a communiqué put together after the annual JournalNG town hall meeting held in Lagos recently.
The third Town Hall meeting put together by JournalNG was tagged “Essence of Automation to productive blue Economy.”
The communique noted that Nigeria should take the advantage of some of the smaller countries without maritime potentials by capitalising on her coastal strengths , calling on freight forwarders and customs brokers to up the ante of training on tariff and trade procedures across boundaries of the continent.
As part of the recommendations , the communique reiterated that Nigeria by her virtue of population and robust economy will be an attractive market from all kinds of goods under AFCFTA, but added that care must be taken to avoid using Nigeria as a dumping ground.
It also appealed for the federal government to encourage and support both local manufacturers as well as farmers for thriving export of goods and services by providing the enabling environment.
It was also recommended that more deep seàports and free trade zones should be created by the government even as it stressed the need for enhanced multimodal transport system network.
The communique also stated that “Nigeria should position herself for the stiff competition in AfCFTA by looking into her import and export trade procedures, import guidelines and trade facilitation as it affects Nigerians and equally important should be looked into.
“That customs should be encouraged to continue to safeguard Nigerian territorial boundaries and trade facilitation, security of goods in in-bound and out-bound the country.
“That giving Customs targets every year by federal Government of Nigeria should be strongly discouraged.
“That the Federal Government’s ease of doing business should be strictly adhered to. That there should be an increased growth in investment and manufacturing for export.
That there should be development of infrastructure (both soft and hard infrastructure).
“That there should be enhanced multimodal transport system network.
That there should be creation of wealth and employment opportunities to Nigerian youths.
That there should be more generation of national and individual income.
“That there should be increased foreign exchange and foreign reserves.
That there should be direct foreign investment to Nigeria.
“Creation of more free trade zones and deep seaports should be encouraged in the country in furtherance to exporting Nigerian goods and services within the continent.
The legislatives and executive arms of government look inward to review customs scope of operations to encourage trade facilitation.
According to the communique, the AFCFTA constitutes the most significant development in Africa’s integration efforts and It is expected that the free trade area will promote the development of manufacturing and agro-processing and with them, accelerated inclusive economic diversification and competitiveness across Africa.
Part of the recommendations also urged private sector, civil society, development partners, media organisations, financial institutions and the general public assist and support for the success AFCFTA and for Nigeria to harness the presented opportunities.