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Fayemi accuses Customs of prioritising revenue generation over enhancing trade facilitation

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GOVERNOR Kayode of Ekiti State has called out the Nigerian Customs Service,(NCS) for placing so much priority on revenue generation instead of enhancing Trade facilitation.

Fayemi who made the observation at the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement,(AFCTA) on Tuesday said it is important to improve focus on trade facilitation as Africa commences the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

Fayemi insists that if trade restrictions and barriers to trade concerns are not properly addressed, Nigeria stands to lose a lot from the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

“In order for us to create new opportunities and spur economic growth, we need to change our mentality of states with rigid borders all over the place.

“The AfCTA has been signed and Nigeria made commitments, but we have Customs. I don’t want to go into details of the mentality of our Customs institutions which focuses more on revenue generation than trade facilitation.”

Fayemi who is also chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum argued that trade facilitation is what makes the   AfCTA work better in our environment.

Speaking on other key areas of concern Fayemi said, “We all saw that the President Buhari administration part of ease of doing business competitiveness, we now allow visa at the point of [email protected]

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He raised concern that those who have gone through that process of trying to bring people in with visas at the point of entry records ‘not so good of experience”

“This is a lot of an experience you would rather not have because it is not as smooth as we claim it to be.

Fayemi also revealed that the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement should address areas of concern with Nigerians at the ‘border threshold’.

“The other concern for me is the orientation of our businesses that are within border communities.

“We all know that we who come from border communities do suffer from crisis because they can oscillate between one country and the other particularly because of our artificial borders.

“People who are living in Illela, Idiroko, Bakassi, would really want to be reassured of support and protection of Nigerian in order to transact their businesses.

The governor also revealed that sub-nationals are currently being engaged to ensure domestic the AfCTA plan into their state economic policies.

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“We need to overcome ideological limitations, breakdown barriers. Nigeria you recall has a history of being involved in regional integration, as well as being a regional driver in Trade integration.

“Ultimately, we are the one to benefit from this if we focus on the opportunities and block the leakages that would make us not to harvest full opportunity from the trade pact.

The AFCTA officially commenced on January 1, 2021 and industry analysts say the pact could grow an estimated $3.4 trillion market.  It is also expected that the trade pact will help to harness more than $84 billion un untapped intra-African exports, according to a new report by the African-Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Wamkele Mene the Secretary-General of the (AFCTA) during his recent visit in Abuja told THE ICIR disclosed that currently, the continent was at the initial stage of implementation of the trade pact amid concerns over grey areas in the different phases of implementation.

“Overall, we are in the initial stages of implementation. We are also still negotiating outstanding areas of phase one in trade in goods and trade in services. Phase two which we will start in July to August is intellectual property rights, competition policy, women in trade, digital trade. We want to get it right so that our people can enjoy maximum benefits of the trade pact.” he said.

Ayotunde Coker, the Chief  Executive Officer of Rach Centre also told THE ICIR though there are some concerns on the early take-off of the (AFCTA), Nigeria should focus on digital infrastructure o enable a digital economy as a key area of its strength in the trade pact.

“Like in the telecom sector when Nigeria nearly took off with nothing but with enabling policy framework. Nigeria should focus on digital infrastructure as a major area to accommodate huge demographics of youths who are already in that sector.

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“Data centre installation is very vital. Nigeria’s teledensity has grown to 45 per cent and internet penetration has the capacity of lifting GDP growth in sub-nationals with lower economic strength and linking them to continental businesses.

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