As you are already aware of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has signed the Agreement on July 7, 2019 at the African Union (AU) Extra Ordinary Meeting held in Niamey, Niger Republic.
In a statement released and endorsed by the Director General of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) stating the Association’s position on Nigeria’ signing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) that as a matter of important, government should go straight policies that can fast track economy growth, as he put it “of urgent attention is for the Government to initiate policies that would encourage startups in the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise, this sector contributes over 80% of the Gross Domestic product, and if properly incentivized and supported could be able to ramp up production and total exports of the country.
Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director General of MAN affirmed that Association actively participated at the Steering Committee level as well as the Technical Working Group. It was based on the outcome of these processes that Mr. President was advised and he did append his signature at the just concluded Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Union, added he.
Before signed the agreement, Ajayi-Kadir noted that a Presidential Steering Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment of the AfCFTA was set up to guide Government on how to independently assess the benefits and risks of the AfCFTA to Nigeria and to propose short, medium and long-term measures to manage them.
The Director General of MAN recall that Association had earlier 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.
“Overall, we should all work towards having a beneficial trade engagement in Africa. Effectively mitigating the risks and taking advantage of the opportunities of a 1.2 Billion market and $2.5 trillion GDP.
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 grows existing capacities.
To aid the competitiveness of local manufacturers, government should strongly address the issue of multiple taxation and over regulation of the production sector which has added to the existing myriad of challenges.
MAN pointed out the issue of the country’s porous border which encouraged smuggling of foreign goods; there could not have been a better time to adopt technology-based border policing and surveillance to check abuse of the intra-Africa Trade protocols and trade malpractices.
Ajayi-Kadir noted that for an open trade arrangement of this nature, we (MAN) recommend that Industries that would be negatively impacted by the influx of goods should be supported to invest in new areas and displaced labour retrained to take on new employments or vocation.
And on the side of the private sector, we need to optimize our processes and innovate to outperform our contemporaries in the other countries of Africa, stated he.
MAN DG reassured that going forward, MAN is joining Government and other private sector groups to critically analyze the continental market and strategically capacitate our domestic economic actors to benefit maximally from the AfCFTA.