Kalu seeks WTO’s collaboration in boosting export of primary products

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By Aaron Ossai

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu has solicited the cooperative efforts of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in boosting the exportation of primary products from Nigeria and Africa in general.

His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Levinus Nwabughiogu in a statement stated that Kalu made the call when he visited the Director-General of the WTO, Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Geneva on the sidelines of the ongoing 148th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Switzerland.

The Deputy Speaker who accompanied the Senate President and leader of the Nigerian delegation to the IPU assembly, Senator Godswill Akpabio to the headquarters of WTO raised concerns about a downward slope of export of primary products from Africa to other parts of the world.

He said that most businessmen from the shore of Africa encountered challenges marketing the products due to aflatoxins that come in contact with them before reaching their destinations, especially within the framework of “The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)” which ultimately provides duty-free treatment to goods of designated sub-Saharan African countries (SSAs).

“Available reports describe aflatoxins as various poisonous carcinogens and mutagens that are produced by certain molds, particularly Aspergillus species.

“The fungi grow in soil, decaying vegetation and various staple foodstuffs and commodities such as hay, sweetcorn, wheat, millet, sorghum, cassava, rice, chili peppers, cottonseed, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and various spices”, he said.

Kalu therefore solicited the help of the WTO to set up centres in Africa for the treatments of the primary products packaged for export.

“Africa is interested in exporting our primary products. We have always had issues with these primary products we are exporting. Aflatoxins, I don’t know what you are putting together to help these products reduce that because it’s one of the complaints about products coming from Africa. I don’t know if there will be centres around Africa where businessmen who cannot afford to do this decontamination will get to that particular centre and detoxify their products to be able to meet the quality specifications before selling them off. Is the WTO interested in this and how much so? Are there programmes designed to be able to facilitate this? Kalu enquired.

Responding to Kalu’s enquiries, the DG, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said that WTO is aware of the development and is also eager to assist countries implement their respective protocols on the issue.