FG approves office for trade negotiations, new yellow card
• Saraki urges ECOWAS leaders to resist trade policy manipulation
• Reps seek expansion of oil and gas investment trade zones
The Federal Government has approved the establishment of a co-ordinating central office for trade negotiations. Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, who briefed State House Correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, said the office, to be domiciled in the ministry, would help to co-ordinate the various trade discussions and negotiations entered into with strategic partners all over the world.
Enelamah said that FEC’s approval yesterday would also help the nation in the implementation of the country’s economic recovery and growth plan because of the government’s intention to engage and work with other countries in the process.
Also, the FEC has given approval for the introduction of a new yellow card with enhanced security features to replace the existing one. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who briefed newsmen, said the aim is to checkmate the incidence of fake ones issued at random by unauthorised persons.
Besides, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi told newsmen that arrangement had been perfected by transaction advisor to begin negotiations after submissions by General Electric (GE) to conclude concession of the narrow gauge railway line which starts from Lagos to Kano-Funtua, Kaura-Namoda and then from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
He said the council also gave approval for the engagement of the same consultant to supervise the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway as well as the Kano-Kaduna railway when awarded.
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resist ongoing manipulation of its well-intended trade policies by other countries to the detriment of the sub-region.
Saraki gave the advice in his speech at the opening session of the 2017 First Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, Saraki said the challenge of insecurity in the sub-region could only be surmounted if there is a collective approach by the community in dealing with the menace.
According to the Senate President, another issue that requires the urgent attention of the ECOWAS Parliamentarians is illegal migration, saying: “We need to proactively work on remedying the image of the sub-region in this regard and join hands to find solutions to the migration challenge that we have.”
Saraki, while receiving members of the Advocacy Mission of the Task Force on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, led by the former President of Niger Republic, Djibou Salou, urged the committee to work assiduously to ensure that all human and systemic obstacles militating against free trade in the sub-region are redressed.
However, the House of Representatives has pushed for the setting up of more trade zones in the country. Leading a debate on a bill, “An act to amend the oil and gas export free zone authority with a view to provide for the designation and establishment of oil and gas free zones and sub-zones,” its sponsor, Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker Jev, said liberalisation of the operations would pave the way for robust business environment.