By Ibrahim Mohammed
#TrackNigeria – African Union Trade Policy Ambassador and Vice President of the Pan African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, has said that it is important for businesses in Nigeria to immediately log into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), recently signed by the country with a view to reaping benefits inherent in the deal.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed into the agreement at the just concluded 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union African (AU) in Niamey, Niger Republic after delays centred on fears that the AfCFTA will turn Nigeria into a dumping for foreign goods and as well as lead to the death of local industries.
Kayode, who is also the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), in a statement issued by ACCI Media & Strategy Officer, Gena Lubem, lauded the country’s membership of AfCFTA saying ‘‘what is important to us in the Organised Private Sector (OPS) is the need to immediately log into the agreement.
‘‘OPS which is a dedicated member supports the Agreement in view of the attendant benefits it has on Nigerian economy and its competitive population.’’
According to him Nigeria signing the AfCFTA does not in anyway expose it to any economic or social hazards, adding that the initiative has ‘‘adequate and all the necessary safeguards against smuggling, dumping and other risks or threats to the internal development of individual countries.
“The agreement covers trade in goods, services, investment, and rules and procedures on dispute settlement, including a range of provisions to facilitate trade, reduce transaction costs, provide exceptions, flexibilities and safeguards for vulnerable groups and countries in challenging circumstances.’’
The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
It initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent in the year 2022.
Newsdiaryonline recalls that Nigeria’s membership followed the advice of a committee set up by President Buhari, after broad consultations with stakeholders.
‘‘Nigeria wishes to emphasise that free trade must also be fair trade. As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population.
“Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services,” he said.
Benin Republic also signed the agreement at the Niger summit, shoring up to 54 countries that have signed the world’s largest free trade area with Eritrea as the only African country yet to be a member of the AfCFTA .