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FG seeks to promote balance of  trade ― Bello

Hassan Bello raises alarm over high turn around time for vessels at Lagos ports.
Abiola Seun     |    

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is committed to putting an end to trade imbalance between Nigeria and her trade partners, Barrister Hassan Bello,  the Executive  Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC)has said.

This is even as the agency pledged to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to quicken the process of cargo clearance across the nation’s ports.

Addressing newsmen on Thursday, Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, noted that a situation where ten vessels would come into the country laden with export goods and leave empty would no longer be tolerated.

“Describing the development as worrisome, Bello called for the diversification of the nation’s economy to facilitate Nigeria’s agricultural products to find their way to other countries.

He said, “It is a sad commentary. If ten containers come to Nigeria with imports, maybe only three will go with exports and that is not a good story to tell.
“We want ten for ten and we are serious about doing that. Nigeria has to live above oil dependency.

“We cannot continue to be an oil-dependent economy. We have to diversify and export. If we export, we will have the foreign exchange everybody craves for, which will give us balance of payments and balance of trade with other countries.

“Unfortunately, it is a sad commentary considering what Nigeria has gained. We are impressed with what is happening at the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and indeed, the Nigerian Customs.

“The moment we have 63 agricultural products, I am sure we will have competitive advantage. The only way to this is to look at the logistic chain and access to the ports.

“We will make sure that every container that comes into the country laden will leave laden.”

Condemning the slow pace of work at the ports, the NSC boss said the delay in prompt clearance of export goods largely contribute to the rejection of Nigerian goods.

“That is why our exports are rejected because, by the time they arrive, some of them would have gone bad but we are coming up with measures to deal with the situation,” he added.

He further explained that the agency is currently working in sync with other sister agencies to have 24 hours ports operation, adding with around-the-clock activities at the ports, the challenge of congestion would become a thing of the past.

“To achieve this, Bello said 85 per cent digitization of ports would be achieved by the first quarter of 2021, up from the current 69 per cent.

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