Stakeholders reiterate need for AfCFTA safeguard measures
Stakeholders in the maritime and media industries have predicted that it would be difficult to enjoy the dividends of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) without the presence of regulatory agencies like the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at the nation’s ports.
The stakeholders explained that SON should be at the ports to check the quality and standards of goods coming into the country, adding that many substandard goods make their way through the ports.
The president, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, said the ECOWAS treaty and AFCFTA agreement Nigeria signed into seeks to remove barriers to trade.
According to him, these agreements would enable products from Europe and Asia to be repackaged and shipped into neighbouring countries with Nigeria being the final destination.
In his words: “The AfCFTA we signed allows for free movement of goods into the country, but if we really understand the essence of SON, the matter of quality and standardisation of products as the key role to be discussed in the agreement, then we must know why SON has to be at the point of entry, but today, SON is not at the ports. How will they be effective, considering that the ECOWAS treaty we signed into effect is failing because products coming from the European and Asian markets are repackaged into neighbouring countries to be brought into Nigeria?
“This is why SON is worried and I want to believe that if we are being honest in what we are doing, SON must be brought back to the port immediately as returning back to the port has nothing to do with issues inhibiting seamless operations at the port”.
Also speaking at the event, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Mega Splash Magazine who also doubles as the Chairman, Powerful Pen Media Chapel, Tunde Daniel, said whatever policy that ordered SON out of the ports is wrong, saying that life is all about standards.
He urged the stakeholder work relentlessly with other relevant stakeholders for the return of SON to the nation’s ports.
Meanwhile, Enebi Shuaibu of the Inspectorate and Compliance Department, SON, said it would be difficult to combat the influx of substandard goods into the country without being at the point of entry.
He said: “The new chairman has promised us of their campaign for SON to go back to the ports because they have seen that there is no way that the new agreement will be a success without SON being at the port to check for the quality of all imports.