The Secretary General, Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria (TWEAN), Mr Joseph Odiase, has urged the Federal Government to facilitate issuance of certificates to wood exporters.
Odiase made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos, on the sideline of an enlightenment programme organised for wood exporters, shipping lines and agents.
He suggested that other directors in the ministry should be allowed to issue the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) certificate “whenever the minister is not in the country’’.
Wood exporters are expected to meet the standards of obtaining the CITES certificate.
NAN reports that CITES is meant to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
NAN also reports that CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
Odiase urged wood exporters to comply with the instructions of the Federal Ministry of Environment on CITES.
He said that exporters should obtain the CITES certificate to avoid their goods being seized by either by government officials or at the ports of destination.
Odiase said that the association would continue to educate members to support government to achieve its objectives in transforming the economy.
The Chairman of TWEAN, Mr Ibitayo Omotoye, said that the enlightenment programme was an opportunity to renew exporters’ commitment toward development of the wood industry in Nigeria.
Omotoye said that the enlightenment programme was meant to guide exporters on the latest developments in wood exports and the policy guidelines of the Federal Government.
He said that there was need for all exporters to embark on tree planting exercise across the Federation.
The Federal Director of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Philip Bankole, in hsi speech, directed Nigerian exporters the CITES certificate to protect Nigeria from being sanctioned by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) Agreement.
Bankole said that it was only the minister of environment who could issue CITES certificate, adding that if the shipping companies and agents refused to obtain CITES certificate, the goods would either be confiscated or seized by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He said that the ministry of environment had changed the procedures of Letter of Support to enable the ministry examine the available facilities, such as machines to process the woods before being exported.
“We appreciate the fact that exporters are employing people but exporters need to work in line with the requirement of ITTO to avoid being sanctioned by the International body.
“It is not that exporters are being wicked for cutting trees for business but they did not know the implication of not replacing the woods cut for business,’’ NAN quotes Bankole as saying.
The director also explained the need for shipping lines as well as agents to also educate exporters more on the particular specifications of woods required for export, adding that
failure to comply would lead to seizure by Customs.
He said that the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, had been advocating that exporters should plant five trees for cutting a tree.
The director added that, “If exporters plant another tree, they are replacing the plants for future.’’
Bankole said that government’s policy was to guide exporters and regulate their operations, based on specific objectives.
Also speaking, a Deputy Director and Head of Wildlife and Site Management, Dr Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewere, urged exporters to ensure that they add value to the community they were cutting trees from.
Ehi-Ebewere said that this would save the community from future danger such as erosion and other things.
She said that apart from cutting woods for export, the trees could be used for natural herbs and to keep animals.
Ehi-Ebewere urged the shipping companies and agents in wood exportation business to ensure that exporters obtain the CITES certificate before exporting.
She urged exporters to get buyers for their goods being exported before leaving the port of origin, adding that the woods must be processed with the ITTO requirements.
“CITES certificate will not be given to any exporter who had already exported the goods before requesting for it, ‘’ NAN quotes her as saying.
Also speaking, a banker with Sterling Bank, Mrs Omolara Akinfolarin, said that the bank was ready to support the exporters with loan to purchase machines to process the woods into specific standards required for export.
Akinfolarin said that Sterling bank was ready to give exporters loan to enable them do their business better.
The Deputy Comptroller of Customs in charge of Export, Apapa Customs Command, Mr Nasir Zakari, said urged exporters to ensure they meet specified export standards and requirements to avoid their goods being seized.
An official of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in charge of Operations, Mr Emmanuel Anda, told the exporters to stop indiscriminate parking of trucks along the port access roads.
Anda said that NPA and some stakeholders in the maritime industry had embarked on road construction of the ports’ access roads at Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports.
He said that exporters should engage in honest declaration to reduce the time of doing business and support all government agencies in the ports to achieve 24-hour cargo clearance target.