‘Removal of red tape will aid CFTA implementation’
With a draft agreement to establish the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) awaiting adoption at a summit of the African Union in March this year, stakeholders have advocated the need to remove various non-tariff barriers, especially among regional blocs.
According to them, the level of trade within the African continent remains low and may hinder the realisation of the CFTA objectives.Once concluded, the CFTA will enhance the movement of goods and services and boost trade facilitation within the 54-member bloc of the continent.
Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah had said that: “Increasing intra-African trade is crucial in a global economy that is turning protectionist. The CFTA negotiations provide a huge opportunity for economic growth and increased welfare in Africa, in a global economy in rapid but uncertain transformation. At the same time, we will continue to take into cognizance the complexities of our domestic market and ensure appropriate safeguards for the Nigerian Economy.”
To industry watchers, the CFTA goes beyond traditional trade agreements in mere goods, as services too are to be progressively liberalised, supported by a mechanism for addressing Africa’s prevalent non-tariff barriers, like border delays, burdensome customs and inspection procedures.In its next phase, negotiations will begin on competition policy, intellectual property rights and possibly also e-commerce.
On his part, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote also called on African governments to review their respective visa procedures and tariff regimes in order to attract the required investments into the continent.
The review, according to Dangote, would remove unnecessary barriers to intra-African trade and guarantee real growth and foreign direct investment to the respective countries.Dangote insisted that African leaders must make a conscious effort to break down the barriers and borders between countries so as to allow free flow of goods, services and people.
President of Afreximbank, Dr Benedict Oramah, while speaking at the opening ceremony of the advanced structured trade finance seminar recently, explained that the move for inclusiveness in the area of trade became important in the light of difficulty in accessing FDIs by many African countries and the need to help the fragmented continent to reap benefits of integration.
He added that the trade solutions being unveiled are needed to boost intra-African trade, especially as there are emerging trends in technology, mobile payments and changing data environment.“Resource mobilisation from African sources helps to reduce dependence on foreign liabilities when there is over $1trillion worth of funds within the continent waiting to be harnessed. We need to help ourselves first rather than financing other economies through bonds issuance.