Manufacturers propose tax, product exclusivity for AfCFTA ratification
Although the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) seeks to create a wider market for trade, local manufacturers are seeking government’s intervention in limiting the number of product lines that will be liberalised, as a protectionist measure.
According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), certain product lines need to be protected from the liberalised items to avoid dumping and disruption in the local markets.
The Director-General of the Association, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, while speaking at the unveiling of a manufacturing plant for the production of maternal commodities and medicine in Lagos, recently, explained that irrespective of the trade relationships between Nigeria and other blocs, some products/industries cannot be left unprotected.
Segun Ajayi-Kadir added that exclusivity is being sought against importation of some products that are being/can be produced locally.
He said the country owed it to itself to protect exclusive industries producing products that have intrinsic quality, irrespective of ECOWAS conventions, such as the Common External Tariff (CET) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, noting that this was necessary to protect jobs and grow the economy.
Meanwhile, MAN also confirmed that series of meeting have been held with the Director-General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), preparatory to the ratification of the AfCFTA.
The association equally added that a comprehensive list of products that will be prohibited under the trade deal was being harmonised and would be presented for consideration in the ongoing trade negotiations.
Already, the UN under-secretary general and Economic Commission for Africa executive secretary, Vera Songwe implored countries to take bold actions as the free trade area would reposition the bloc as a competitive player in the global arena.
She said the liberalisation of trade under the regional economic communities means that AfCFTA was likely to affect only around 7% of Africa’s total imports under current trade patterns.
Songwe said tariff revenues accounted for around 15% of total tax revenue in Africa, therefore, not the largest source of revenues and that tariff reductions in AfCFTA were to be phased gradually, over a period of five years for developing countries and 10 years for least developed countries, or 10 years and 13 years respectively for sensitive products.