Council mobilises 75 MSMEs in Sokoto on benefits of AfCFTA

 The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has mobilised 75 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) owners in Sokoto on benefits of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for enhanced exports.

The Executive Director of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, stated this during a workshop on Tuesday in Sokoto.

The workshop is titled: ”Export Competency Development Programme to Enhance MSMEs Success in ECOWAS and AfCFTA”.

Awolowo, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Policy and Strategy, Mr Akintunde Folorunso, underscored the importance of utilising trade opportunities through AfCFTA for maximum businesses growth.

He said the country’s business treaties which were ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme (ETLS) and AfCFTA have opened up exporters’ doors to the world’s largest market as recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He said the ECOWAS trade liberation scheme, is aimed at expanding the volume of intra-community trade in the sub region through the removal of both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade on products originating from ECOWAS countries.

”AfCFTA is an agreement for a single market by accelerating and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market with the strength of a common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.

”There is need for exporters to acquire the necessary skills to enable them to penetrate global trade professionally,” he said.

The Executive Director  urged all exporters to diversify their export base by exporting more of value added products, so as to penetrate the free trade areas across Africa.

”55 member nations of Africa Union (AU) established AfCFTA to create single continent wide market for goods and services to promote the movement of capital and natural persons to achieve economically integrated Africa.

”The United Nations Economic Commission (UNECA) estimates that AfCFTA will boost intra Africa trade  by 52.3 per cent once import duties and non tariff barriers are eliminated,” Awolowo said.

He added that NEPC with its mandate on promoting non-oil export,  will ensure that nation’s exporters were fully armed with necessary skills and requirements to be able to operate in market.

Earlier, Mr Olusegun Olutayo, Lead Trade Officer, said the  President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed to equipping MSMEs for production and exportation at all levels.

Olutayo explained that the Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP),  was another Federal Government economic sustainability plan to stimulate non-oil exports, safeguard jobs and project businesses from adverse effects of COVID-19.

He said the National Committee on Export Promotion implements non-oil  business support plans including EEFP with funds to various levels of SMEs.

He said other strategies included establishment of the National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA,  to among other objectives facilitate stakeholders engagements, trade facilitations and inclusiveness.

Mr Ahmed Yahaya, Trade Promotion Advisor and NEPC Export Assistant , Sokoto Office,  led participants on series of discussions on businesses, packages, registrations and non exports modalities.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop’s objective is to prepare and train MSMEs in Sokoto and environs on how to export their products successfully on international markets.NAN reports that on July 7, 2019, President Buhari signed the AfCFTA Agreement.The Agreement seeks to create a single market for goods and services by facilitating free movement of goods, services and investment within the African Continent.

Nigeria became the 53rd country to join the area after President Buhari signed the AfCFTA Agreement in Niamey, Niger Republic.

The Republic of Benin also joined the group, bringing to 54, the total of African countries out of 55 that had endorsed the AfCFTA agreement. Only Eritrea is left out.

The Nigerian President appended his signature to the agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on the Launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.(NAN)