CACOL cautions Nigeria against being misled on free trade deal
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against being misled on free trade agreement.It disclosed in a statement that the president had planned to attend a session of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) in Kigali, before he was advised against it.
The group disclosed that Buhari bowed to the views of critical bodies as the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to make way for wider consultation.
CACOL commended Buhari for not attending the session, which held from March 20 to 22, 2018.The NLC and MAN had alleged that the agreement would negatively slow down the pace of the country’s industrial takeoff, and turn it into a dumping ground for other nations’ industrial products.
“Nigeria, along with ten other nations withdrew their consent for the agreement, while about 44 countries signed it. The issues involved are deeper than how they appear from the surface.
“The World Trade Organisation (WTO), since its inauguration in 1995, has been making overt and covert pressures on countries to adopt the African version of its agreement in the African continent,” the statement said.
CACOL urged the president to remain resolute on his decision, and not be cowed by forces that are bent on controlling Nigeria’s huge market.This, it, noted is without considerations for the bad consequences of the agreement on the country.
The statement said: “Nigeria is not just contending with economic stagnation, but had been consciously de-industrialised by policies imposed by neo-liberal organisations like WTO and ACFTA.
“A vintage example of how these platforms manipulate member-states was the smuggling of the “ rule of origin” clause snare.” According to CACOL, the clause requires that when an African country that is covered by the agreement sells some products, the attendant tariffs would go to the originating country.
It added that a member state like Burundi could get cheap products from China or Europe and package them in its name for export to Nigeria without any hindrance.The group cautioned against trade liberalisation policies, which in the past made many companies to fold up and relocate to neighbouring countries.It warned that this does not only rob the country of potential revenues, but also harmful to its industries and economic plans.
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