Abiola Seun |
The Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers’ Council Mr. Hassan Bello has said that Nigeria should adopt the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 10-point action plan to strengthen international trade and transport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the sensitization workshop for stakeholders on the theme: “Trade Facilitation During The COVID-19 Pandemic-Challenges, Lessons and The Way Forward,” Bello said that it was necessary to adopt the 10-point action plan to facilitate trade in the country.
He disclosed the UNCTAD 10-point action plan includes uninterrupted shipping, keep the ports open, project international trade of critical goods and speed up customs clearance and trade facilitation, facilitate cross-border transport to ensure free flow of goods across borders and safeguard transparency and provision of up-to-date information.
He said others are go paperless, electronic submissions and paperless transactions become ever more important in observing the physical /social distancing, protect shippers and transport service providers alike; and proritise technical assistance by investing in human, institutional and technology capacities.
According to him, the Shippers’ Council is committed to adopting maritime stakeholders’ resolutions at the meeting to implement them in order to facilitate trade in line with the UNCTAD 10-point action plan.
He added: “The importance of these resolutions became visibly clear locally in Nigeria at the height of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the course of its daily monitoring exercise during that period, the NSC has observed that some shippers, through no fault of theirs, are unable to take delivery of their cargo because of number of reasons that include ban on public transportation during lockdown, inadequate banking services and among others”
He said NSC came up with some remedial measures and interventions to address the challenges during the lockdown to ensure that ports experience seamless operations.
Speaking further, he said it is pertinent to emphasize that the gaps experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the need for the adoption of e-commerce in the country, especially the digitalisation of the port in order to reduce human-to-human contact, adopt paper-based transactions as the norms for international trade interface and port operations.
He pointed out that government and private sector alike need to embrace the concept of “smart ports” in line with international best practices.
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