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Rising exchange rate poses more difficulty for importers, says expert

By Adaku Onyenucheya
09 December 2020   |   3:55 am
Continuous rising of foreign exchange may pose more difficulty for importers in the coming year, the National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Iju Tony Nwabunike has said.

National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Iju Tony Nwabunike

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Continuous rising of foreign exchange may pose more difficulty for importers in the coming year, the National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Iju Tony Nwabunike has said.

Nwabunike, who spoke to journalists when he received the Shipping World Achievers Awards 2020 as the “Most Outstanding Freight Forwarder of the Decade”, said: “It is so disheartening to see our naira so devalued to nearly N500 to one US Dollar. What this means is that, next year is going to be very difficult for us too. For those that are importing because of Forex, they are going to find it very difficult, as those who are actually importing will think twice.”

He said the only way out of this problem is for government to encourage local manufacturers and improve infrastructural amenities so that people will go into farming and industrialisation, which will cushion the high level of exchange rate.

Nwabunike also highlighted various challenges facing freight forwarders and customs brokers, describing it as “very serious” and affecting their businesses.

He listed the challenges to include, infrastructure deficit, multiplicities of government agencies in the ports, concessionaires, terminal operators and shipping companies not taking directives from government and non-disciplinary actions against them, among others.

He said receiving the award would spur him to ensure he fights against those challenges, thereby creating an enabling business environment for freight forwarders and customs brokers in the country.

“If you look at the issue critically, you will know that we are facing lots of challenges. Challenges of those that ought to be doing oversight functions that are not doing what needs to be done. This award is going to give me the impetus and strength to fight against those challenges,” he said.

Nwabunike, who also spoke on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is scheduled to kick- off on January 1, 2021, reminded the Federal Government on the need to open the borders and liberalise trade.

“Most importantly, we know its going to be a borderless trade and what do we have to offer? Do we have the products? Is Nigeria ready? These are questions we need to ask ourselves. For me, I think we have a whole lot of things to do because it is going to be a very competitive market and if you don’t have anything to bring to the table, I think we are going to suffer it. Being a giant of Africa does not mean anything, if you don’t have anything to give on the table you are going to have a deficit of supply and demand,” he said.

Nwabunike said, once the border is opened, the freight forwarders would have some levels of employment as well as create employment for others.

“Even the trade liberalisation we are talking about, the ECOWAS trade is going to work up again as they are open up in all the areas. We are not saying we should leave our borders porous, we need to work in line with principles of AfCFTA and ECOWAS trade liberalisation,” he added.

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