FG Urged to Tackle Barriers to Trade to Boost FX Inflows

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The Managing Director of Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), Mr. Michael Larbie has stressed the need for the federal government to ensure that all barriers that inhibit the ease of trade flows in country are removed.

The RMB boss also called for the automation of all trade processes, so as to replace the current paper based system.

Larbie said this in a speech he presented at the International Chamber of Commerce Nigeria (ICCN) meeting hosted by RMB in Lagos on Tuesday.

He expressed delight over the performance of the Investors’ and Exporters’ (I&E) window, since it was created in April.

He added: “In the past few months, we have seen some much-needed liquidity return to our markets after three years of foreign currency scarcity and a devalued naira. During this time, we all saw how difficult it was to settle trade obligations with so little forex in our system.

“Many of our importers were unable to pay foreign companies in their home currencies. So it is indeed encouraging that the NAFEX window has opened and foreign investors are once again investing in our country bringing in US dollars and other foreign currencies and boosting Nigerian assets.

“We expect this trend to continue and hope it will be encouraged further by the lifting of all barriers which are inhibiting the ease of trade flows in our country. The key issue in this respect, as we know, is the necessity to automate all trade processes to replace our current paper based system. This will both speed up the trade finance as well as making it far more efficient for us, and our foreign partners, to conduct business.”

Larbie commended the ICC Nigeria for their effort, which according to him, had contributed to the deepening of the trade finance markets and provides businesses the opportunity to tap into international business practices and opportunities.

“We also know that as an influential group, ICC Nigeria is able to work with and assist local industry bodies. We encourage ICC Nigeria to continue engaging with all local institutions including the ministry of finance, ministry of trade and the central bank to help foster growth in our country’s trade and enable it to adapt to changing market circumstances.

“The ICC Nigeria as a pressure group can play a significant role in speeding up the introduction of an automated system by regularly engaging with the regulatory bodies and offering assistance or advice where it is needed. ICC Nigeria should work with other stakeholders towards the completion of the Nigerian Single Window to include the Form A, NCX and the NXP.

We also encourage the ICC to work with the CBN in its review of the forex manual. The current document was published in 2006, and recent developments in the trade markets mean the document is long overdue for a refresh. The ICC and the central bank are invited to work with bankers to review new versions of the document and assist in developing a modern, world-class update. As a bank, RMB Nigeria is here to support and develop the trade business and will contribute both intellectually and financially as may be required in this regard,” he said.