Nigeria officially joined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Agreement Sunday in Niamey at the opening of the African Union (AU) Summit.President Buhari appended his signature to the treaty at exactly 10: 47 a.m. in the presence of African Heads of State and Government, delegates and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media attending the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.
In his remarks shortly after signing the agreement, the President declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration have never been in doubt nor was it ever under threat.
He told the Summit that Nigeria will build on the event by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA.
“Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade,” he declared.
“I wish to assure you, that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want.
“I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018.
“In fact, you will recall that the treaty establishing the African Economic Community was signed in Abuja in 1991.
“We fully understand the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges, whether security, economic or corruption.
“But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society stakeholders and the public in general.
“Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services.
“It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade which is the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods.
“Some of the critical challenges that we identified will require our collective action as a Union and we will be presenting them for consideration at the appropriate AfCFTA fora.
“Examples are tackling injurious trade practices by third parties and attracting the investment we need to grow local manufacturing and service capacities.”