Panel on African free trade submits report January
The Presidential Steering Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Impact and Readiness Assessment will present its recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2019.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement yesterday.
He said the committee, which was given 12 weeks to conclude its assignment, has held wide consultations with industry groups and stakeholders, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
Nigeria has not yet signed the AfCFTA agreement, which seeks to remove all forms of restrictions to trade and investment flows within the African continent.
It would be recalled that on October 22, 2018 while inaugurating the committee at the Presidential Villa, Buhari charged it to assess the extent to which Nigeria could join the agreement, and what impact it would have on the country.
This is coming on the heels of a report by MAN, which stated that if Nigeria ratifies the agreement, import surges will range from 27.6 per cent for textile, apparel and footwear sub-sector, to 180.7 per cent for chemical and pharmaceutical products during the three phases of liberalising tariff lines with five per cent tariff rates.
According to MAN, the import surge will be as high as over 2000 per cent in motor vehicle assembly sub-sector for over 15 years, when 10 per cent tariff rates are liberalised.
This, it, argued will instantly spell doom for the automotive aspect of Nigeria’s National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
The MAN study also shows differing output, employment and investment effects across manufacturing sub-sectors.
For instance, four sub-sectors as food, beverages and tobacco, wood and wood products, textile, apparel and footwear and non-metallic, will likely see substantially high rates of increase in imports and competition, including a substantial decrease in output.
Some sectors such as electrical and electronics and wood and wood products would also lay off workers, the report said.
The study further stated that huge investments are required in chemical and pharmaceutical products and textile, apparel and footwear sectors, while moderate investments are required in electrical and electronics.
AfCFTA is designed to be a pan-African free trade area that will create a single market for goods and services.
It also aims at liberalising and facilitating the movement of investment and business people across the continent.
On March 21, 2018, 44 of the 55 African countries signed the AfCFTA agreement in Kigali, Rwanda.
As at December 2018, 49 countries had signed the AfCFTA agreement, while 13 countries ratified it. The agreement will become binding and implementation could begin once 22 states ratify it.