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How ECOWAS omitted Nigeria’s priority goods from AfCFTA’s exclusive lists

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Despite being a major market in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), local manufacturers have kicked against the exclusion of Nigeria’s priority products from the sensitive and exclusive lists of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), operators do not agree with the identified 429 tariff lines in the Sensitive and 184 tariff lines in the Exclusion lists consolidated by the ECOWAS Commission because preferences of Nigeria were not included.

They added that the use of frequency of the choice of member-state as the major criteria to select tariff lines that will go into Exclusion, Sensitive and Liberalized baskets; not minding the economic size, the magnitude of market and industrialization capacity of member-states was not acceptable.

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MAN, at its zonal sensitisation workshop on AfCFTA, explained that the tariff schedule for trade in goods was reviewed by the National Technical Group on AfCFTA Trade in Goods (NTGTG) and submitted to Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN). Thereafter, NOTN submitted the document to Tariff Technical Committee (TTC) chaired by the Federal Ministry of Finance for consideration, approval and onward transmission to ECOWAS Commission

MAN, however, observed that some of the items in the submission made to NOTN/TTC were not included in the schedule collated by ECOWAS for Nigeria.

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“This was corroborated by the discovery that Nigeria priority products were not included in the list consolidated by ECOWAS Commission. Most worrisome is the fact that experts concluded work on the document with express approval that ECOWAS Commission should present to ECOMOT for consideration and approval, despite the reservations and objections from Nigeria”, Adeyemi Folorunsho of MAN’s sectoral department said.

Considering the reservation/objection by Nigeria, MAN said the Authority of Heads of States of ECOWAS has directed the ECOWAS Commission to go back and consider the reservations/objections of Nigeria.

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The manufacturers noted that member-states were not allowed to negotiate the exclusion list consolidated by the ECOWAS Commission; while sensitive list consolidated by the ECOWAS Commission is a working list as member-states were not allowed or given the opportunity to conclude negotiation and therefore the process was stalled

“As it is now, Nigeria’s concerns will no longer be ignored by ECOWAS. Hopefully, some of the items that are strategic to Nigeria which ideally should be in the Exclusion and Sensitive lists but was ‘pushed’ by ECOWAS to the liberalized list, would be restored; Other items as presented in the Exclusion and Sensitive lists shall be properly monitored as we accompany NOTN by extension Nigeria to the negotiating table”, MAN added.

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MAN President, Mansur Ahmed, described the trade treaty as a symbol of the commitment of the African Union to free trade on the continent through progressive elimination of tariffs on imports covering 90 percent of tariff lines in Trade in-Goods and Services.

“MAN recognises the imperativeness of creating a beneficial Free Trade Area for export of the products of members and has strongly worked assiduously to promote the articulation of evidence-based positions on AfCFTA,” Mansur said.

Mansur, who was represented by Isaac Ade Agoye, national treasurer of the association, said every trade agreement came with economic gains and pains.

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