Nigeria 'unsure' donors fully committed to trade facilitation scheme

    Nigerian Trade Minister Olusegun Aganga. Photo by: Ryan Rayburn / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

    Even as World Trade Organization member states celebrated the landmark agreement on trade facilitation signed last December in Bali, it was clear that implementation was going to be just as tricky as the deal itself.

    As a part of the “Bali package,” countries agreed to meet universal standards for customs procedures to facilitate the movement of goods across borders. However, developing countries wanted a commitment for capacity building and technical assistance from wealthier countries so they would not be required to have to choose between funding schools and funding improved border processes.

    Nigerian Trade Minister Olusegun Aganga believed the agreement could indeed be the ‘win-win’ that it was touted as, but like others, he is unsure if funding commitments to help developing countries meet customs standards will match the rhetoric that came out of Bali.

    Even if Nigeria’s support was instrumental in getting other developing countries on board, Aganga pointed to the caveat that it will be up to donors to make sure the resources are there to help these nations meet the standards.

    “I think we made a point, and it was recognized and I think we had a number of offers in terms of support and assistance, but we'll have to wait to see this happen,” the government official told Devex on the sidelines of a trade policy roundtable hosted by the Initiative for Global Development and the Nigeria Leadership Initiative in Washington D.C on Monday. “If you are familiar with the agreement, I think there's no major obligation on the African developing economies if they have not received the technical aid and support.”

    As to whether donors were willing to cough up the resources necessary to help developing nations, only time would tell.

    “If you look at the global economy today and the different obligations that countries have, you look at the resources that different countries have, they don't have enough these days to do what they need to do,” he said. “So I'm not sure that the commitments will match the requirements, the cost that is required to achieve the objective, but it will still move us in the right direction.”

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    See more:

    Walk the talk: Donor commitments on WTO trade deal
    WTO commits to development under historic agreement

    About the author

    • Paul Stephens

      Paul Stephens is a former Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. As a multimedia journalist, editor and producer, Paul has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, CBS Evening News, GlobalPost, and the United Nations magazine, among other outlets. He's won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a 5-month, in-depth reporting project in Yemen after two stints in Georgia: one as a Peace Corps volunteer and another as a communications coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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