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REGIONAL INTEGRATION: CET MAY DEMAND PARADIGM SHIFT- ADENIYI

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Wale Adeniyi

… PLEADS FOR ACCURATE MEDIA PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION 

The implementation of the celebrated Common External Tariff (CET) by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in spite of its anticipated benefits of achieving an integrated and prosperous sub-region, may nonetheless necessitate a paradigm shift.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) national Image-maker, Deputy Comptroller, Wale Adeniyi indicated this, in a remark at a CET Workshop organized by the NCS for the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Abuja.

“For the key indicators in measuring Customs performance, there may now be paradigm change.

“All along, it was good to say, ‘we have generated so much billions of Naira’; but now, the measuring rod may have to change”, the Customs spokesman, Adeniyi stated, adding that the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the decisions of the ECOWAS as a body would now become more binding on member countries.

Pointing out that every imported cargo would still enjoy normal classification, he however noted that the rule of origin may also receive more emphasis; culminating sometimes, in the gaining of some benefits, while forfeiting some past position.

“So, you will see that we may have to be sacrificing some of these revenues for developments in other sectors of the economy.

“ECOWAS is a very big market which Nigeria cannot afford to ignore; and there is a wind of change which says that trade is a very important vehicle of development.

“And for us to embrace trade, we cannot afford to trade without the mechanism for trade in West Africa; and that is through the instrumentality of the ECOWAS ETLS and the Common External Tariff

“There are so many angles, of which we are going to be getting exposed to, as we enter into some of these agreements. These include the Economic Partnership for Africa (EPA), which is already going on between the sub-region and also the European Union (EU).

“By the time we enter enter into this, it is going to guarantee us access into the EU market. But then, nothing goes for nothing. So, for them to give us access to this market, they may also ask us to suspend some of the (Customs) duty that we charge on import that is coming from these countries. That is the way multilateralism trade grows”, he stated further, seeking the understanding of the media, towards accurate presentation of information to the public.

“So, with time, you (media) will have to help us, so that if you see the revenue in Tin Can Island Port drops by a certain percent, you are not going to be looking at those figures in absolute terms.

“We are also going to be looking at other matrix: ‘Yes, the revenue dropped, but our industry is faring better’; ‘Yes, the revenue dropped, but there is now a significant increase in graduate employment’, or ‘were more youths more employed?’; ‘yes, the revenue dropped, but the factories are now operating at higher installed capacities’.

“So, these are some of the issues that we’ll need to recognise and appreciate as we brainstorm in preparation towards the years to come, especially as we enter into the nitty-gritty of the implementation of the CET, the Rule of Origin, the EPA etc”, he explained further.

It must be recalled that while Nigeria became a member of the WCO in 1963; the country not only championed the establishment of the ECOWAS, but in fact, bankrolled it in 1975. 

This implies that Nigeria would have to compulsorily comply or abide by all the decisions of both the WCO and the ECOWAS, in a bid to boost integration and fuel regional prosperity.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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