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AfCFTA: Experts explain impact on small businesses

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The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has unveiled a survey and policy brief that would serve as a roadmap to show how Medium, Small and Micro-scale Enterprises (MSMEs) can benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Speaking at the launch in Lagos, CIPE, which funded the survey, said the report aimed at unlocking economic opportunities, develop critical reforms for policy engagement with the government and other stakeholders as well as articulate policy positions to enable local traders and businesses benefit maximally. Launched by the Secretary of the National Action Committee, AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu, the event had in attendance key industry stakeholders.

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According to the survey, MSMEs remained critical constituents of the Nigerian economy as they represent about 96 per cent of Nigerian businesses and contribute 75 per cent to national employment. It noted that MSMEs would benefit from greater access to new markets and the possible economic transformation that competition could promote.

It focused on four key sectors – wholesale/retail trade, the agricultural and food processing sector, manufacturing and service sectors –, which CIPE said were selected given their high business potential and contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP), employment and exports.

Decrying the low level of awareness of the agreement among MSMEs, the study said there is a general optimism surrounding the likely effects of its implementation among the minority who are aware of the agreement.

Director of education, Governance research, Center for the Study of Economics of Africa (CSEA), Dr. Adedeji Adeniran listed the potential impacts of economic integration, stressing that it would lead to an improvement in intra-African trade, net welfare improvement and access to a larger market/skilled labour.

He said businesses surveyed said they were afraid that cheaper goods from other African countries would increase in foreign penetration in the market, reduce the demand for local goods and increase dumping of sub-standard products on the country.

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