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AfCFTA could boost continental trade by $35b, says AFREXIMBank

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The President/Chairman Board of Directors, African Export-Import Bank (AfrexinBank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, has argued that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could catalyse trade on the continent by $35billion, an increase of more than 50 per cent from current levels.

Speaking at the 17th CVL Annual leadership and International Symposium, in Lagos recently, he added that AfCFTA is the cornerstone to Africa’s economic independence.

With the topic: “The Rrise of the Simbas: Intra-African Trade as a Instrument for Africa’s Economic Transformation,” he added that AfCFTA could also push regional trade levels up from 15 per cent to 25 per cent within a decade.

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According to him, AfCFTA will help African economies to industrialise and improve Africa’s share of global manufacturing output, adding that it would also increase the continent’s annual economic growth, create wealth more inclusively, and reduce poverty.

He however urged African leaders to focus on minimising fiscal revenue losses that AfCFTA may cause; estimated to exceed $4billion per annum.

He charged African leaders to ensure that the private sector is well prepared to take advantage of the market opportunity AfCFTA will throw open; and endeavour to put in place mechanisms that will improve access to appropriate and credible trade information, especially Intra-African trade for the private sector.

They should also consider the establishment or create the environment for the emergence of private sector-led Export Trading Companies (ETCs); build national brands for manufactures; facilitate the emergence and strengthening of quality infrastructure facilities; strengthen national industrial/export development finance institutions and export promotion agencies.

Conclusively, he added that governments should consider creating an agency for AfCFTA, perhaps under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

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Also speaking, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Joseph Sanusi, said competitiveness is key in revamping the nation’s economy.

According to him, vital sectors like health, education and others must compete for optimum cost, adding that government must provide conducive environment, encourage private sector investment and ensure security of lives and properties.

Similarly, CVL founder, Prof Pat Utomi, who spoke on: “Integrity, ethics, trade and prosperity,” said to accomplish the possible; men of commerce in Nigeria must be men of integrity, who respect contracts and frowns at impunity.

He said: “If we are to build prosperity for all, we must remember the importance of character, which helps a culture of integrity.”

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