Nigerian traders can now be assured of better trading processes through plans in place by the federal government to create a more conducive environment for investment opportunities. 

This assurance came from the Honourable Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga while giving a keynote address on Nigeria’s Investment Climate at a trade facilitation/policy briefing with African businessmen in London last week.

The Minister who spoke extensively on the low level of involvement of Africa in global trade, expressed optimism that the situation is fast changing due to the introduction of some strategies by the government to make Nigeria more competitive in global trade. 

“Nigeria is going for higher levels of Intra-African trade and will ensure that African economy block remains strong, relevant and modernised to meet the needs of our people. Domestic trade is important to us because we must focus on domestic trade as we also focus on regional trade”. 

Speaking further, the Minister said, “Nigeria boasts to become the third largest nation in the world after India and China and that tells us the direction the market is going. With a consumer market of roughly about 400 billion by 2013, everyone wants to be a Nigerian and there is money to be made in the country”. 

“Domestic policy is critical and in order to optimize and benefit from the domestic and regional trade strategy, Nigeria has taken decisions to invest in infrastructure, technology and processes”. 

Commending the efforts of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Inde Abdullahi for taking the lead in implementing trade facilitation agreements, the Minister lauded the Service for innovative thinking and investments made in facilitating trade. 

He revealed that the Nigeria Customs is a key player in the plans being made by the government which are strategized to boost domestic, regional and international trade while strengthening economic integration with fellow African countries. 

Speaking earlier, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Inde Abdullahi expressed that the Nigeria Customs Service plays a prominent role in ensuring that the trading environment is conducive for traders. 
He traced efforts to modernise the service back to 2009 when he embarked on a 6-point agenda plan to prepare the Service for a transformation in its operations. 

He said the Service repositioned itself through the implementation of a critical reform programme which concentrated on capacity building initiatives for officers, improved welfare package, upgrade of systems and automation of clearance processes, synergy building with other Customs Administrations and the private sector and a communication and outreach programme to enhance stakeholder engagement. 

The result of the programme, he said, is visible today through the attainment of a modernisation stage that enables existing and potential investors the opportunity to take advantage of the large market. 

“Nigeria Customs now provides timely, authoritative and accurate information about Nigerian trade with the rest of the world through the Nigerian trade portal. The interactive portal offers online advisory on Customs Tariff Classification and Valuation, tax base, Nigerian regulatory agencies, customs brokers, and currency conversion tools”. 

Speaking on the development of the Pre Arrival Assessment Report, the Comptroller-General explained PAAR has enabled the process of clearance of goods before the arrival of cargoes into Nigeria. He said the system has enhanced collaboration and build up of integrity between Customs and its various stakeholders. 

Nigeria’s foremost Industrialist, Alh. Aliko Dangote who was also present at the event, gave a keynote address on “The Opportunities and Challenges of Investing in Nigeria”. During his speech, he explained that investors are becoming increasingly attracted to Nigeria and taking position in recognition of the tremendous opportunities despite some challenges that are present in Nigeria’s trading sector. 

The industrialist who was represented by the Group Managing Director, Alhaji Mansur Ahmed explained that with the position of Nigeria currently in terms of human and natural resources, any key player in the trading environment cannot ignore the market in the country. 

He however mentioned power supply and transportation as the major challenges slowing down the investment flow in Nigeria but expressed optimism that the ongoing policies and initiatives of Government will help in addressing these challenges. 

Two different panel sessions on the “Prospects for Increasing Trade and Boosting Economic Development” and “Nigeria’s Trading Environment, Myths and Realities”, explored Nigerian”s position in West Africa and global trading flows and different countries represented gave contributions of their trading policies and ways to encourage collaborative techniques. 
In yet another session, Nigeria Customs technological innovations took centre stage and officers of the ICT unit of the service showcased the recent reforms undertaken by the service to facilitate international trade and establish a fast track clearance system. 

Valentina Mintah of Techno Brain West Blue spoke on Improving the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria while Comptroller of Customs, ICT Unit, Mr. Abdullahi Babani gave a case study of increasing customer satisfaction through the new help desk service. 

The forum attracted a good number of prominent personalities and key players in Nigeria’s trading environment such as Chairman, House Committee on Customs, Honourable Sabo Nakudu, Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, Honourable Abike Dabiri Erewa. Others are GMD/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Stephen Onasanya, Director General of National Agency for Food, Drug, Administration and Control, Dr. Paul Orhii, MD of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Mr Gbenga Kuye and Chairman, Stallion Group, Mr. Sunil Vaswani among others. 




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