As the issues of trade shocks or obstacles and other limiting factors have taken centre stage, the need early warning system and rapid response has been emphasised. It is against this background that the International Trade Centre (ITC) Associate Market Analyst, Mr. Yared Befecadu facilitated by FEWACCI CEO, Mr. Aminou Akadiri and Prof. Jonathan Aremu met with the management of the chamber to take a diagnostic look at how such grey areas have been confronted.
In his opening remarks, Befecadu emphasised why they are focusing on SMEs that are represented by chambers of commerce which they found to be the main entry point for the implementation of trade related technical interventions at the country level.
He also explained that SMEs in developing countries often find market regulations and trade procedures challenging when they export or import products and complying with market rules, having products tested/certified and getting documents cleared can hinder companies international competitiveness.
In the other hand, he also hinted that in several instances, policy makers are not fully aware of the challenges faced by companies and are thus not empowered to put in place suitable programmes and policies.
Consequently, the Trade Obstacles Alert Mechanism (TOAM) which he is working on is developed to work with relevant public and private institutions to facilitate the identification and elimination of trade obstacles faced by companies.
Under the initiative which is online driven, companies post their challenges to relevant agencies, who interact with companies in efficient manner to resolve the challenge while policymakers and trade support institutions on the other hand monitor an updated database of obstacles faced by companies and put in place remedial mechanism policies or programmes.
According to him, the arrangement has identified institutional network across companies, public and semi-public agencies and national focal point which makes it possible for the User, National Focal Point, Competent Authority and National Focal Point to interface on a sustainable basis.
Other issues that were discussed during the meeting were: non-tariff barriers, goods documentation, infrastructure, receiving and processing of information as well as ventilating on grievances.
In dedicated questions, he sought to get specific information on means of trade obstacles, contact persons during such, inter-agency cooperation, common platform for the discussion of business related challenges, better ways to engage the government, requirements/resources or capacity needed to facilitate the scheme in Abuja.
The DG of the Chamber, Chief Tonia Shoyele (Mrs) in support of the NACCIMA Abuja Liaison Director, Mr. Usman Abbas lauded the initiative and also said it would go a long way in expeditiously tackling some of the trade related obstacles.
On the issue of tracking trade activities within the Sub-region, DG opined that it is important that the business activities within the area are formalised in order to bring countries in the area into one platform hence they do businesses amongst themselves.
NACCIMA has now established an information sharing system which when leveraged upon by the ITC, it would go a long way in providing the capacity, network and personnel needed to surmount the obstacles.
In addition, as much as there are several agencies doing different trade facilitation activities, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment was the best place to contact and influenced to key into the agenda.
They informed the team about the existence of PEBEC which addresses some of the major concerns of businessmen even as it is a drop in the ocean.
On the capacity needed to institutionalise the scheme, FEWACCI, NACCIMA and ACCI pointed out that they have the capacity and resources and the focal personnel may just need to be streamlined to fit into the scheme.
They suggested that in order to carry out the scheme, the regional chambers of commerce should be contacted, mobilised to drive the initiative in their respective catchment areas in view of their peculiarities.
After the formal meeting, the guests were taken round the Chamber Centres and each of them was explained based on the roles they are playing in the development of Nigeria’s economy after which Befecadu expressed satisfaction and undertake to partner with the Chamber in actualising the noble objectives.