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Buhari inaugurates committee to implement AfCFTA agreement

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
21 December 2019   |   4:15 am
President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the National Action Committee for the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA).Inaugurating the committee chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo...

First Quarterly Report Ready By March 2020

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the National Action Committee for the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA).Inaugurating the committee chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, President Buhari said the country cannot afford to get it wrong.

At the event yesterday in Abuja, President Buhari said that Nigeria’s approach to AfCFTA has been very measured and consistent as Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation.The President directed all key ministers and senior government officials to provide support to the Committee, saying that he expects the first of quarterly reports in March 2020.“As you also know, trade is pivotal to job creation, growth and health of the economy. It is also a key enabler for regional and global integration.

“The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement is an important part of the African Union- 2063 Agenda to promote economic and social integration on the continent.“We are very hopeful of creating a single African market for ‘Made -in- Africa’ goods and services. This trade, together with free movement of people and capital, will result in faster integration of African economies.“As a government, we must ensure that Nigeria’s position remains that, such integration must be rules-based with built-in safeguards, against injurious practices.

“Nigeria’s approach to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement has been very measured and consistent. Our logic was simple, as Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation, we cannot afford to get it wrong.”The nation’s number one citizen said, before signing the agreement, all key stakeholders were consulted.He said: “We also conducted a rigorous impact and readiness evaluation. It was after these consultations and studies, and satisfactory reports that I signed the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement on behalf of Nigeria in July this year.

“We know the benefits and understand the challenges. It is clear that for us to fully benefit from this agreement, we must have an implementation programme that reflects our national trade objectives and development plans.

“This, therefore, requires aligning, restructuring existing development projects, programme and initiatives. Where there are gaps, we must address them. Accordingly, we have established the National Action Committee on AfCFTA.“As a committee, your mandate is to support the efforts of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, stakeholder associations and businesses to realise the benefits of the AfCFTA, while putting measures to address any threats that may arise. All parties must work together and not allow any loopholes that might prove injurious to the Nigerian economy.

“I have directed all key Ministers and Senior Government officials to provide maximum support to your Committee.
“For us as a government, our expectation from this agreement is job creation for our youth, increased production of our local raw materials and ultimately, exporting quality Made-in-Africa goods.”He said he expects quarterly report beginning from March 2020.

Continuing, Buhari said: “You are to submit quarterly reports on your progress, and I look forward to receiving your first report in March 2020.”In his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, explained that the ACFTA Agreement seeks to create a single market for goods and services and movement of persons to spur economic growth, enhance welfare, create jobs, and deepen integration amongst African countries.He said the Agreement is being negotiated in two phases.

“The Phase I agreement is comprised of the framework agreement, the protocols for trade in goods and trade in services and the mechanism for dispute resolution.
“The Phase I agreement came into force on May 30, 2019, one month after the 22nd African country ratified the agreement.“Although the main Phase agreement has been completed, negotiations are continuing on the annexures and appendices.

“Notable items being negotiated include among others, the scheduled Concessions for Goods and Services and the product specific Rules of Origin for the remaining 12 per cent of tariff lines.“It is estimated that the Schedule of Concessions will become effective in July 2020. Phase II negotiations will start in January 2020 and will focus on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights.”

Adebayo said the mandate of the committee includes: conclusion of a common undifferentiated ECOWAS schedule of concessions for trade in goods and trade in services for AFCFTA and Common External Tariff (CET) negotiations; championing programmes to resolve the critical continental level challenges such as smuggling and abuse of rules of origin, production capacity constraints as well as border and trade rules enforcement, conclusion of the ongoing trade reforms programmes at ECOWAS including: adoption of a common trade policy.

It also includes: Establishment of an ECOWAS Trade Policy Committee,resolving issues in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS); establishment of an ECOWAS Members peer review and audit mechanism; and Amending article 9 on ECOWAS Protocol on Decision Making. Also within the mandate of the Committee is coordination of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and stakeholder groups to implement the trade readiness interventions detailed in the AFCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Report.

Other members of the committee are: Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning (Alternate Chairman); Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector Matters, Office of the Chief of Staff (Secretary); Director General Budget Office of the Federation; Permanent Secretary Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment.

They also include the Director General, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Development Policy; Office of the Chief of Staff; Director, Technical Services, Federal Ministry of Finance; Director level representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment, Transportation, Aviation Agriculture and Rural Development, Petroleum Resources, Mines and Steel Development, Power, Communications and Digital Economy, Works and Housing and Information and Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Others are Director and Comptroller level representatives of Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Nigeria Ports Authority and Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies.

Stakeholder members include National Executive level representatives of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, National Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Labour Congress, National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Federated Association of Agricultural Commodities Associations of Nigeria and National Association of Nigerian Traders.Also included in the Committee are representatives of the Technology/Digital Economy Associations, Financial Services,Health, Education and Creative Services sectors.