The Federal Government has urged the Nigerian Business Operators (NBO), to leverage on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement that are being implemented to boost the Nigerian market in Africa.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, disclosed this at the maiden Sensitization Workshop on Intra- Africa Trade opportunities held recently in Gombe, Gombe State.
The workshop was Themed: ‘Exploring the opportunities on Intra-Africa Trade’
Dr. Gwarzo appreciated the Governor of Gombe State, Alh. Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya for collaborating with the Ministry to host the workshop in his State.
He stated that ELTS is an Instrument of Trade designed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to create market access to the fifteen member Countries covered by the scheme with the sole objective to establishing a Custom Union among all member States.
‘’The aim is to eliminate custom duties and taxes, removal of non-tariff barriers and to protect goods produced in member states’’. he added.
The scheme has over the years, witnessed rapid growth of about 6000 registered enterprises in Nigeria participating actively in Intra-Regional Trade in line with the vision of the current administration to diversify the economy.
“The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has engaged the major stakeholders in export trade especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s) in the six (6) geo political zones to ensure increase in output in the year 2023’’, he said.
The Permanent Secretary also said that in order to achieve this, a scheme was introduced by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) with the setting up of information desk in their various offices to assist exporters have easier access to the ETLS application forms, provide guidance on how to complete the forms correctly while the Ministry provides policy directives.
“In order for Nigerian business operators to have market access beyond the shores of this country, the Federal Government had signed the AfCFTA agreement in 2019 and on Dec 5, 2020, ratified the same agreement,” he added.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism Gombe State, Alhaji Nasiru Mohammed Aliyu said the decision made by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to orgtanise the sensitization workshop was apt and timely for the repositioning of the economy and to explore the opportunities offered by both the ECOWAS and the entire African continent, with the view of lifting millions of Africans out of poverty.
Alh Nasiru stated that the ECOWAS trade liberalization scheme offers enormous market access to the Nigerian Enterprises especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).To kick start the process, the Executive Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya in his magnanimity has approved the establishment of Industrial Park land area of 1000 hectares situated along Gombe-Biu road and that the time is ripe for all stakeholders, farmers and merchants to put heads together to promote Ease of Doing Business (EOB), in the region.
The Director, Trade, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aliyu Abubakar ably represented by the Assistant Director Intra-Africa Trade, Haj. Zulaiha Abdullahi appreciated participants for turning out in their numbers for the workshop and also congratulated them for having a high-level resource personnel at the workshop.
Abubakar said the workshop could not have taken place at a better time than now when Covid-19 pandemic had forced many economies into recession, the AfCFTA and ETLS are trade deals that Nigeria can use to trade herself out of recession and poverty eradication in the Country.
He also stated that the Ministry was committed to carrying out the sensitization workshop in the (6) Geo-Political Zones of the country to promote and enhance public enlightenment on the policy and advocacy on trade related issues.
He sincerely thanked the government and good people of Gombe State for their hospitality.