Nigeria accept electronic documents as WTO pact kicks off


The federal government has given its commitment to accept electronic documentation for exports as the World Trade Organisation, WTO, trade facilitation agreement comes into force.

The WTO Director General, Roberto Azevêdo, who announced the coming into force of the agreement on February 22, said one of the key benefits would be expedited movement, release and clearance of exports, including goods in transit.

Shortly after the announcement, the Executive Director/CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo, said in Abuja that Nigeria was excited with the development considering that Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, submitted the country’s ratification only in January.

“The ratification of the TFA is indeed a major milestone for global multilateral trade”, Mr. Awolowo said. “I am optimistic that Nigeria would go ahead to domesticate and implement the agreement to the letter”.

He said Nigeria expected remarkable outcomes for international trade through TFA, aimed at expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods and services.

The agreement would also reduce bureaucracy at the borders for faster, cheaper and easier trade aimed at increased trade and investment.

Other benefits of the agreement would be the promotion of trade through established harmonized rules to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods crossing borders.

Besides, it would offer opportunities, especially for small and medium scale enterprises, SMEs, to engage in formal export of goods currently being traded informally across borders.

“With TFA, a larger number of exporters will partake in global value chains, thereby enabling all businesses to tap into the huge potentials of trade” Mr. Awolowo said.

He said Nigeria would benefit particularly non-oil exports, as the country was now committed to accept electronic documentation, test procedures and method of handling perishable/rejected goods.

“For Nigeria, the much-advocated National Single Window (NSW) initiative would bring about faster services at the borders for both imports and exports.

“It will also ensure correct revenue collection and create room for transparency in governance, better public service and modernization through e-legislation, thus creating a win-win situation for both government and business,” he said.

NEPC, Mr. Awolowo pointed out, was committed to support and work closely with the relevant government agencies, private sector and international organisations to ensure full implementation of the agreement.

Apart from maximizing the benefits of TFA, especially to make export trade the catalyst for achieving national economic turn-around for sustainable development, he said it would enhance annual gross domestic product, GDP, growth, job creation, higher incomes, improved welfare, reduced trade costs, and improvements to the country’s ease of doing business index.

Besides, he said, many small businesses that hitherto found it impossible to trade internationally due to complex regulatory requirements would henceforth be part of global trade leading to sustainable growth and prosperity.

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