AfCFTA committee pushes for Nigeria to sign agreement
About 15 months after the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement was signed in Rwanda, the presidential committee on impact and readiness assessment has recommended that Nigeria sign the agreement.
The recommendation came in a report presented to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja.
In his acceptance address, the President said that though agreements negotiated will create business opportunities for Africa, still, they cannot be rushed into without full and proper consultations with all stakeholders.
He noted that since the adoption of the AfCFTA, a lot has been said about Nigeria’s decision to conduct a detailed study on how the agreement will impact the country.
“Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations. Economic progress is what makes the world go around”.
He added that Nigeria’s position is very simple, stressing that the nation supports free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.
“The AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on us as a nation and on our region. As Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, we cannot afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders,” he said.
According to him, for AfCFTA to succeed, policies that promote African production should be developed.
“Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy, but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of made in Africa goods. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition”.
“If we allow unbridled imports to continue, it will dominate our trade. The implication of this, is that coastal importing nations will prosper while landlocked nations will continue to suffer and depend on aid,” he said.
He stressed the need to ensure that “our negotiated agreements create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and innovators”.
He thanked the members of the committee for the report and assured them that the report will form part of the consideration in the decision on the next steps on the AfCFTA in particular and on broader trade integration subjects, while expressing the hope that “the AfCFTA we aspire to have should therefore not only create wealth for investors but also jobs and prosperity for our vibrant and hardworking citizens. The benefits of economic growth must be prosperity for the masses”.