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Federal Government shuns AfCFTA agreement for consultations with OPS

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President Muhammadu Buhari PHOTO: BAYO OMOBORIOWO

Apparently bowing to pressure and concerns raised by the Organised Private sector (OPS), Nigeria will not be joining 54 other African countries today to sign an agreement that will launch the contested trade deal heralding the common market for Africa, African Continental Free Trade Area (the AfCFTA).

Despite leading the African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) to adopt the legal instruments constituting the AfCFTA namely, the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA, the Protocol on Trade in Goods, the Protocol on Trade in Services and, the Protocol on Rules and Procedures for the Settlement of Disputes, sources at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said government decided to put an hold on the agreement pending dialogue with relevant stakeholders.

President Muhammadu Buhari had cancelled his scheduled trip to Kigali, Rwanda, because enough consultation was not made before the Federal Executive Council approved the signing of the framework agreement for establishing the AfCFTA.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) had advised government to cautiously carry out the signing to prevent unintended consequences that may lead to the opening up of the nation’s economy to foreign products, through the back door.

MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, urged the Federal Government to seek proper and adequate consultations with critical stakeholders to mitigate the imminent onslaught ahead of the implementation phase of the AfCFTA.

Besides, the AfroChampions initiative, co-chaired by former President Thabo Mbeki and Mr. Aliko Dangote, President and CEO of Dangote Group, has staked $1 million on outreach and advocacy campaign to foster exchange between the African private sector and the leaders of the African Union, and in particular its department in charge of Trade and Industry.

The AfCFTA is expected to cover an African market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55-member states of the African Union.


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