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Without Nigeria, AfCFTA implementation is incomplete, says Secretariat

By Guardian Nigeria
11 November 2021   |   4:14 am
Acknowledging Nigeria’s market size despite continued drag in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the AfCFTA secretariat has stated that achieving the trade objectives ...

Secretary-General, AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene

Acknowledging Nigeria’s market size despite continued drag in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the AfCFTA secretariat has stated that achieving the trade objectives is incomplete without Nigeria implementing the protocols.

Almost one year after the implementation of the AfCFTA commenced, Nigeria is yet to unveil guidelines and implementation strategy for the trade deal, raising concerns for the organised private sector.

The Secretary General, AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, while speaking at the Africa Day of the Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) themed, ‘Boosting intra-African trade’, noted that without Nigeria, the implementation of the AfCFTA would be incomplete.

Though he lauded the efforts of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, he said the potential of the AfCFTA market expansion is supported by market capacity to boost trade volumes and increase GDP growth per capita, while maintaining that market liberalisation will encourage SMEs to contribute to global supply chains.

Wamkele asserted that intra-African exports are projected to increase by 81 per cent, offering West Africa the opportunity to expand with a combined GDP of $3.85 trillion.

“AfCFTA will bring trade protection, investment protection and liberalisation of trade to compete and establish efficiency in the regional and global supply chains while eliminating red tapes and simplifying customs procedures,” he added.

He noted that the AfCFTA has the potential to increase Africa exports by $560billion, while boosting the productive capacity of exportable goods in the manufacturing sector.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (LCCI) also expressed confidence in the intra-regional trade agreement, adding that the AfCFTA has the capacity, network and technology transfer to facilitate the integration of African economies into a large market.

LCCI president, Toki Mabogunje, admitted that AfCFTA without doubt, has the potential to accelerate the socio-economic development of the African continent stressing: “We are of the firm belief that a well-implemented AfCFTA will stimulate economic growth through linkage opportunities in trade, commerce, and industry to generate job opportunities, and help to facilitate the economic diversification of African economies. “

“While the take-off of AfCFTA should be lauded, much work remains undone as critical parts of the agreement are yet to be finalised. Several key issues need to be addressed including, schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy, and intellectual property rights in the AfCFTA agreement.”

She pointed out the need to address critical issues such as resolving the issues around rules of origin, establish special economic zones, create value addition, conclude pending negotiations, resolve incidences of trade protocol violation and create a sound legal framework to Support the Implementation of AfCFTA.

“There are concerns about the adherence of participating countries to the protocols within the AfCFTA framework. Africa’s trade narrative, as we all know, is characterized by trade malpractices – smuggling, unilateralism, and violation of trade protocols.

“Within the context of developing nations, economic integration creates a trade diversion risk in which trade shifts from a lower-cost producer outside the continent to a higher-cost producer in the African continent”, she added.

The Chairman Trade Promotion Board, Gabriel Idahosa said the Africa Day is an opportunity for networking, trade partnership development, and promotion of intra-African trade, adding that it is an effective platform that supports the vision of AfCFTA in creating the much-needed awareness towards achieving the key mandates of the agreement.