University Don, Prof. Iyiola Oni has advised the Nigerian freight forwarders to start studying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement as well as the operations of the Single Window so as to become acquainted with their imperatives.
Prof. Oni gave this admonition while delivering a lecture titled “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement Regime and Single Window Evolution: Implications for Freight Forwarders”, in an event to mark the 20th Anniversary of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos recently.
He stated that since almost all countries in Africa were coming on stream in this agreement, freight forwarders should start studying and identifying which countries they have comparative and competitive advantage noting that with that they could link up with easily.
He further said that they should start brokering partnerships in these countries and start pilot or trial business schemes in anticipation of the full-scale operations of the AfCFTA in 2020.
According to him, “As operators, plan and position for these giant strides by the African Union to boost economic activities in the continent, the spirit is for you to rise above local challenges, develop adequate capacity for continental and global competition.”
Speaking on the implication of AfCFTA for freight forwarders, Prof. Oni pointed out that welfare benefits from lower import prices, production efficiency and increase in outputs would offer more jobs to the freight forwarders, increased economic inflow into the sector and increase in job opportunities among professional operators.
“There will occur local SME’s vanishing in front of stronger competition”, he said.
On what the freight forwarders must do, the university Don advised them to be dynamic in enlightenment in line with current developments; acquire required knowledge and skills in ICT and international trade; be equipped with basic tools to access trade platforms and for professional operations.
He further posited that freight forwarders should study and abide by industry standards and codes, global best practices and respect the laws of the land; prepare and aspire for open market and global competition as that is the destination of the profession as well as re-invest in the logistics chain to have robust capacity to offer broad-based services and undertake different functions in the sector.
He maintained that over time, economic boundaries would be erased completely across the globe, the freight forwarder in US, China or Australia would have the same trade opportunity with a freight forwarder in Nigeria and visibility through demonstration of professional competence and excellence would sustain relevance.
He cautioned, “This is the time to draw your roadmap for the future.”
Speaking on the advantages of AfCFTA and the Single Window, Prof. Oni averred that it would address prevalent problems in: trade policies, trade facilitation, improving productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade financing, trade information as well as continental market integration.
Others according to him included; encouraging capacity building and professionalism in practice, setting and implementing standards and codes of operations, eradication of corruption and sharp practices, speedy delivery of international trade, improved security in the international logistics chain, progressive increase in trade volume across the continent, expected to double by 2022, increase in local content growth and development and improvement in African trade rating globally.
These benefits, however, he believed, would accrue more to countries that were equipped and prepared adding that AfCFTA offers many opportunities for sustainable development and economic growth in the African economies, “however, not all countries will benefit to the same extent!”
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