Local manufacturers have outlined some of the pre-conditions and safeguards given to the Federal Government as part of measures to maximise the potential benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal, having signed the agreement.
Specifically, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said the Presidential Steering Committee recommended the introduction of explicit rules on import quota restrictions; adoption of a common Market Access Offer for Trade in Goods and Trade in Services for ECOWAS, including synchronized Sensitive and Exclusive Lists as well as other safeguard measures.
Similarly, MAN identified the adoption of the common Market Access Offer for Trade in Goods to replace and supersede the 2013 ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), which created vulnerabilities for Nigerian industry and manufacturing; and adoption of appropriate continental customs cooperation and other mechanisms to tackle predatory trade.
Indeed, manufacturers urged Government to back her words with action by putting the necessary measures in place to prevent an abuse of agreement.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), had equally urged the government to maximise benefits accruable from consumers and market right of access to multiple and diversified products and services and seek protection against abusive and injurious parties in and outside Nigeria based on ongoing capacity expansion of trade laws.
MAN in a position paper on the AfCFTA, recalled that it cautioned against signing the agreement without first adequately consulting the relevant stakeholders and carrying out a country-specific study to assess the potential impact of the agreement on the manufacturing sector in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.
It added that the outcome of the processes aided President Muhammadu Buhari in making a decision on the trade deal.
“The President said in unmistakable terms that the Agreement should carry with it a manufacturing agenda for the continent and quite importantly, that the goods to be traded should be made-in-Africa products.
“He said: ‘there should be commitment of all parties to comply with the rules of origin and operate in a fair manner to get us the Africa we want.’ There were also several conditions that the steering committee advised should accompany Nigeria’s consent, which I believe had been taken on board”, a statement by MAN’s Director-General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, read in part.
Alongside the need to enhance capacity of the manufacturing sector, Ajayi-Kadir said the Association suggested the need for the establishment of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, to coordinate relevant Ministries, Departments, Agencies of government and private sector groups to drive the implementation of projects and initiatives.
MAN however urged operators to optimise processes and innovate to outperform their contemporaries in the other countries of Africa.
“Of course, we shall work together to prevail on the Government to do its own bit by providing the conducive atmosphere.
The infrastructure challenges such as poor electricity supply, deplorable road network and lack of adequate transportation system (rail network) etc. that constitute the supply constraints should be removed.
“Needed policies to improve the macroeconomic environment should be put in place and existing ease of doing business initiatives strengthened, especially to lower cost and grow existing capacities.”