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Why Nigeria must embrace continental free trade area

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Billy Gillis-Harry

Entrepreneurs in the Niger Delta have canvassed the need for the Federal Government to sign the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

The President, Coalition of South-South Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Billy Gillis-Harry, made the call yesterday.

He said the signing would expand market access for Nigeria’s exports of goods and services.

The scope, he said, covers a market of 1.2 billion Africans, with a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion.

He added that CFTA would eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products and services in the continent.

Gillis-Harry said this was based on a recommendation by chambers Ad-Hoc Committee on Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

This followed Nigeria’s abstinence from signing the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018, after it had championed the struggle for the CFTA.

He said the Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN), with support from the labour movement, championed the position.

He explained that after due consideration of the advantages of the CFTA, the chambers resolved that if Nigeria signs the treaty, it will eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products and services.

It would also support its industrial and competitiveness policies, through negotiated and agreed “exclusion and sensitive lists” for Nigeria’s infant industries.

He further stated that the treaty would boost job creation through increased intra-African trade and transform Nigeria from a “Target Economy” to an “Africa Gateway Economy.”

It would further provide a platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) integration into the regional economy and acceleration of women’s trade and economic empowerment.

Gillis-Harry explained that becoming a part of CFTA would change the perception of Nigeria as a protectionist and defensive State to an open, modernising and integrationist country.

According him, CFTA Dispute Settlement Mechanism will help to stop the hostile and discriminatory treatment against Nigerian natural and corporate persons in other Africa countries.

The South-South chamber of commerce observed that Nigeria will experienced reduction in customs revenue as a reduction in import tariffs from member states if she signs the treaty.


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