Nigeria is determined to fully implement the terms of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and uphold its commitments on trade and regional integration, the country's Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo, said Monday.
In remarks to a two-day national AfCTA forum that opened Monday in Lagos, Mr. Adebayo said Nigeria, however, will not allow smuggling and other predatory trade practices to continue unchecked in the country as this undermines the nation's development efforts and destroyed local industries, leading to job losses.
"We also will not allow rogue traders to manipulate the rules of origin and disguise goods from outside the continent as made in Africa so as to qualify for duty free passage," he said, adding for a successful implementation of the AfCFTA, his government had constituted the National Action Committee to coordinate a wide range of actions at the domestic, regional and continental levels
From the studies done so far, the Minister said, Nigeria has established that the AfCFTA can facilitate economic growth and diversification through preferential access to Africa's market for manufactured goods and services.
This can be done through upping the country's production capacity, retooling and upscaling existing businesses and assisting sectors that will be negatively impacted to migrate to new areas; prioritizing the resolution of bottlenecks that hinder competitiveness in trade, including hard infrastructure such as power and logistics as well as policies and regulations; and enforcement of trade rules without compromising the country's efforts on trade facilitation and ease of doing business.
"Whilst we have rightfully been wary of the risks posed by the AfCFTA to Nigeria, we ought now to look at it with significant optimism," the Minister said, adding the Nigerian Export Promotion Council had mapped out goods and services where the country has strong potential to export to Africa.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the AfCFTA agreement in July after what his government said were comprehensive consultations with the private sector and in-depth consideration of its potential impact on the Nigerian economy.
The forum, running under the theme Effective Implementation for Industrialisation and Inclusive Economic Development in Nigeria is also a platform to actively engage with and consult intra-African actors across a diverse range of different sectors to better understand how the agreement can shape more inclusive economic development in Nigeria.
The AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 and implementation starts in July 2020. The historic agreement provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world's largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc, ushering in a new era of development.
The forum was co-organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the European Union, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC).