Nigeria to establish trade negotiations office

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

The Federal Executive Council has given approval for the establishment of the Office of Trade Negotiations to coordinate government trade negotiations and achieve coherence in policies to pull the country’s trade together.

This was one of the decisions taken at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council, presided over by Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, who was one of the Ministers who briefed State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said the Office of Trade Negotiations would also be “part of an offensive strategy in the sense of being proactive in engaging in discussions we are having in continental free trade area agreements we are negotiating or other free trade agreements that we will enter into with strategic partners all over the world.”

He said the Office of Trade Negotiations, which would be headed by a Chief Trade Negotiator of the rank of an ambassador, would also help government in the implementation of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan because “there is an intention to engage and work with other countries in that process.”

Enelamah said the office would also help Nigeria to have trade remedies against dumping and the importation and sale of sub-standard goods in Nigeria as is done the world over.

The Industry Minister said there are various negotiations going on in ministries and agencies with insufficient co-ordination, making it imperative to establish the Nigeria Office of Trade Negotiation to work with the Economic Management Team and the Cabinet.

He said the Economic Management Team would play an oversight role over the Office of Trade Negotiator.

New Yellow Card
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said Council approved the memorandum to introduce the Yellow Card with advance security features.

He said the new card cannot be forged, unlike the current card which could be issued by anybody and those who didn’t receive vaccination could have the card signed for them.

“With this new card, you cannot fake the yellow card,” Professor Adewole stated, explaining that “using a card reader we can also document your vaccination status.”

He said the Ministry of Health would let Nigerians know the date of commencement and what do what with the existing yellow card and when it would be phased out.

Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, also spoke, saying that the Council approved the commencement of negotiations between Transaction Advisers with General Electric after the firm submitted the Outline Business Case to conclude the concession of the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge of the Nigerian Railways.

Amaechi said the negotiation would also include narrow gauge from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, which includes Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Markudi, Jos, Bauchi and Gombe.

He said approval was given for the appointments of consultants that would supervise the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway.

He said approval was also given for the consultants that would supervise the Kano-Kaduna Railway, when the contract is awarded.

Nnenna.O