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Nigeria may Miss Afreximbank, AU’s $1b support to AfCFTA members

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President, AfreximBank, Dr. Benedict Oramah

Nigeria may miss from partaking of the $1billion largesse planned for participating member countries in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which comes as a support to any initial fiscal imbalance arising from the implementations.

The development came as a further boost for the implementation of AfCFTA, with the disclosure of the stabilisation facility to be made available to countries to sustain efforts in achieving the more than $3 trillion trade value on the continent.

Tagged, ‘AfCFTA Adjustment Facility,’ the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) affirmed its partnership with the African Union (AU) to firm up the arrangement that would raise the capacity of the participating countries and contribute to the regional trade integration process.

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This is as Nigeria and the rest of Africa’s total merchandise trade in 2018 have been estimated at $997.9 billion. With the development, Africa retained its number one position as the fastest growing region in the world, riding on the back of the much sought intra-trade and integration, which rose steadily by 17 per cent to reach $159 billion.

The amount, which represents 3.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018, amid slowdown in global growth during the period, was contained in a new report by Afreximbank titled, ‘The African Trade Report 2019: African Trade in a Digital World’.

The report was launched yesterday in Moscow, Russia, on the sidelines of the ongoing 26th yearly meetings of Afreximbank.

Nigeria is yet to ratify the intra-African trade deal due for launch on July 7, 2019, in Niamey, over alleged poor consultations. The Federal Government is currently renegotiating the deals with the hope of meeting the barely two-week take off date for the scheme.

Speaking about the facility, Afreximbank president, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said: “This facility will make it easier for countries to comply with their commitments on tariff concessions and make the AfCFTA more impactful. Under the bank’s Intra-African Trade Strategy, we planned to disburse $25 billion on a revolving basis in support of intra-regional trade between 2017 and 2021.

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“I am pleased to report that in two years of implementation, about $8 billion have been disbursed, supporting trade and investment flows across borders. In a world being torn apart by intense divisions, isolationism and nationalistic instincts, any handshake across borders, across the seas must be applauded.

“Today, Russia has joined the path well-trodden by China and India to forge a new partnership with Africa, a relationship built on trust and a felt need for mutual prosperity, in efforts to boost the region’s economic activities,” he said.
 
Oramah noted that the struggle for emancipation on the continent is not over, stressing that Africa still lags behind in all measures of economic progress and human development.
  
“Africa emerged at independence as a fragmented continent of many states of varying sizes. Infrastructure and systems were designed to maintain trade and economic relations with the old colonial powers and not the neighbouring countries; trade relations were structured to perpetuate commodity dependence and to discourage intra-regional trade and investment relations.

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“Sixty years post-independence, the continent is still heavily commodity-dependent and accounts for a paltry 2.5 per cent of global trade despite accounting for 16 per cent of global population. Africa remains the continent that trades the least with itself with intra-African trade at just about 16 per cent of Africa’s total trade,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Russian Federation, yesterday, pledged to assist Nigeria and the rest of African countries to find solutions to economic and development challenges, saying it is possible when “we do it together.”
 
The country’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, who gave the assurance, noted that despite the difficult global economic developments, positive goals could still be achieved with effective partnership.

According to him, Russia and African economies were endowed richly, a development that makes strategic investments imperative on the continent to support growth, which Russia was now pleased to participate in the ensuing projects.
 
He said that Russia would use its expertise to raise the value of the continent’s primary sector, particularly in industrial productions, mining and agriculture.


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