The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have called on importers, freight forwarders and other stakeholders to strive to adhere to international best practices in the conduct of their businesses in order to promote trade facilitation in the country.
Heads of both agencies made the call while speaking at a one-day seminar on ethics, jointly organised in Lagos.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, stated that the council’s goal was to promote an efficient port system that would encourage healthy competition, enthrone transparency, facilitate trade and reduce cost of doing business.
Bello, urged stakeholders to respect trade rules, adding that it would promote efficiency.
He explained that the Council’s goal was to promote an efficiency port system that would make players become aware of their duties, obligations, responsibilities and liabilities.
“With high ethical practices in place in the port system, vices such as impunity, presumptuous behaviours and ignorance with respect to adherence to procedures, rules and regulations will be minimised, ”he said.
Bello, added that the NSC as the port economic regulator had evolved new strategies whereby standardised services, tariffs, rates and charges were being put in place with attendant optimal benefits to providers and consumers of port services.
In a paper titled, ‘The Role of Nigerian Shippers Council in Trade Facilitation,’ he argued that trade facilitation was not just a buzzword in international business circles, but now an indication of how a nation fares in the global trading environment.
In his speech on the occasion, the Director-General of SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma, called on importers and freight forwarders to adhere to code of ethics as they were necessary guidelines for adjudging the integrity with which services are rendered.
Aboloma, who was represented by a Director with SON, Mr Obiora Manafa, said this helps in fostering trust of the stakeholders and the society in general.
He added that SON has been proactive in ensuring that requisite standards are made available for most products in Nigerian markets.
“SON has set up regulatory frameworks for compliance with these standards. Procedures are made available and adequate sensitisation s are being carried out to ensure that the public is abreast with the activities of SON.
“These are deliberate attempts to remove doubts and ensure transparency in our operations and services to stakeholders, ”he said.
In his paper, the Director, Consumer Services, NSC Mr Cajetan Agu, told the stakeholders that, “an effective trade facilitation requires stakeholders collaboration to foster transparency, predictability and efficiency in trade transactions which in turn attract more trade and thereby improve our position on all indices of global business performance.”
He maintained that all stakeholders must therefore accept a paradigm shift in their operations and embrace the streamlining of formalities (documentation and procedures).
He said stakeholders must also accept the reduction of documentations and procedures, automation of processes and procedures to achieve the desired efficiency and cost reduction.
He further called for the promotion of synergy among border agencies and usual institutional turfs to check delays and high cost of conducting cross border trade in Nigeria.
According to him, it was important to establish a strong platform for addressing and resolving issues of common interest to the national economy for timely decision to facilitate trade.
The council also explained that the registration exercise being carried out was in accordance with the provisions of the Act that sets NSC as economic regulator.