President Muhammadu Buhari has made it clear that Nigeria will continue to support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.
Receiving the report of the Committee set up to assess the impact and readiness for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement(AfCFTA), at the Presidential Villa today, June 27, Buhari noted that AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on Nigeria and African region.
“As Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, we cannot afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders.”
President Buhari noted that intra-African trade is only 14 percent of Africa’s total trade whereas the consumption is mostly of goods imported from outside the continent.
“For AfCFTA to succeed, we must develop policies that promote African production, among other benefits.
“Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods”. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.
“If we allow unbridled imports to continue, it will dominate our trade. The implication of this, is that coastal importing nations will prosper while landlocked nations will continue to suffer and depend on aid.”
The Nigeria leader stressed that many of the challenges facing Africa today, “whether security, economic or corruption are rooted in our inability, over the years, to domesticate the production of the most basic requirements and create jobs for our very vibrant, young and dynamic population.”
He said that henceforth, Africa will that it negotiated agreements create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and innovators.
“The AfCFTA we aspire to have should therefore not only create wealth for investors but also jobs and prosperity for our vibrant and hardworking citizens. The benefits of economic growth must be prosperity for the masses.”
The African Union Heads of States, had over a year ago, adopted the Phase I Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at its 10th Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on 21st of March 2018.
Since then, a lot has been said about Nigeria’s decision to conduct a detailed study on how this agreement will impact us as a country.