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Government still sceptical over AfCTA deal, says Osinbajo


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo PHOTO: NOVO ISIORO

• VP confirms Nigeria’s participation at 2018 IATF
• Calls on private sector organs to network

The Federal Government has expressed reservations over the signing of the African Continental Trade Agreement (AfCTA) despite promises by President Muhammadu Buhari that he will soon sign the agreement.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while speaking at the quarterly presidential business forum in Abuja yesterday, said the advantages in the agreement notwithstanding, Nigeria must ensure it gets the best possible terms in trade and commerce.

He said the rest of Africa was interested in Nigeria appending her signature on the agreement because of the enormous advantages they will derive from Nigeria’s participation.

However, Minister Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said Nigeria should consider the countries that have already signed the AfCTA.

He said: “If the decision on whether to sign or not were mine, I will look at the countries that have signed. The interesting thing about the countries that have signed is that they are one-city countries such as Rwanda (Kigali), Niger (Niamey) and Ghana (Accra) unlike us where we have cities like Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Owerri.

In another development, Osinbajo yesterday confirmed Nigeria’s participation in the forthcoming December 11-17, 2018 Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) billed for Cairo in Egypt aimed at up-scaling access to market information within the African continent.

Osinbajo, who gave the assurance at a sensitisation and engagement session for the IATF jointly organised by the Afrexim Bank with collaboration of the African Union and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Abuja, represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Are Ipaye, said Nigeria would take a national pavilion to exhibit the county’s rich resources and quality products, which at the moment may not be known to African entrepreneurs who source them elsewhere, including outside the continent, at a huge cost.

He, therefore, tasked the NEPC to sensitise and mobilise Nigerian manufacturers to take advantage of the Fair to exhibit their products so as to boost their supply and market channels.

While the President of the Afreximbabk, Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, declared that the bank was ready to provide trade financing to successful trade networks emerging at the Fair to breakdown the challenges of financing, the Executive Secretary of the NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, said the IATF would serve as a veritable platform for advancing Africa ‘s trade agenda.

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