The most talked of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, despite the ratification of by 22 countries, may delay by four countries in depositing their instruments, as well as other trade issues needed to be addressed before the deal becomes operational.
Looking at many other issues surround the implementation of the treat into operational full may stall beyond the proposed date of July, 2019.
According to the report, the AfCFTA is expected to enter into force 30 days after 22 instruments of ratification have been deposited with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) – the designated depositary for this purpose.
Having reached the minimum threshold of ratifications, the operational phase of the agreement will be launched in July this year at the Africa Union summit. But the condition of meeting the minimum ratifications is not mean immediate commencement of implementation of the agreement; it is the last step towards implementation.
According to the Outgoing 19 National President of the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Iyalode Alaba Lawson said the endorsement does not automatic which means the agreement is still subject to negotiations on a number of implementation aspects and modalities.
The NACCIMA President urged Nigeria to sign the agreement first as there are many the key issues where negotiations are still needed like the rules of origin, non-tariff barriers, structure of implementation, schedule of concessions and tariff books.
Such agreements will determine tariffs applicable to goods and commitment by countries.
The management of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), had insisted that the Federal Government specifies the protectionist mechanism to check influx of goods that may collapse domestic manufacturing.
According to Celestine Ukpong, an economist and astute investor’s view on the agreement saying the negotiations are a complex issue, as it involves multiple stakeholders over a range of issues. The process is expected to take up to one year before the agreement takes effect in middle of 2020 or there around, he added.
Amehnews recall that the trade bloc spanning 49 countries with a combined GDP of $3 trillion, will facilitate inter-regional trade, boost growth and help to alleviate poverty.
The African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, tweeted: “Good news! The Parliament of The Gambia has APPROVED ratification of #AfCFTA Agreement making us meet the minimum threshold.
“The AfCFTA market is being born and is one step ready for launch of its operational phase may be this year.
The agreement, which as at March last year has signature of 49 out of 55 African Union members, will dodge a patchwork of trade regulations and tariffs that make intra-African commerce costly, time-consuming and cumbersome.
Many stakeholders are of the opinion that the promotion of tariff-free movement of goods, people and services across the continent is also expected to favour SME’s, which account for 80% of Africa’s employment and 50% of its GDP, according to the World Bank.
But skeptics have pointed to the impending challenges of uniting countries with the greatest level of income disparity between them, under the umbrella of one trade bloc.
For example, over 50 percent of Africa’s cumulative GDP is contributed by Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, while Africa’s six sovereign island nations collectively contribute just 1 percent.
According to the report, Lamin Jobe, Gambia’s trade minister brought the motion before Gambia’s parliament with highlighted the trade benefits of deeper regional integration.
This document, Jobe said will definitely serve as a take-off point to enhance the free movement of people, good and services.
While response to AFTCTA issues, the immediate past President of the National Association of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Chief Iyalode Alaba Lawson, while speaking to Commerce and Industry Correspondents during the commissioning of Ide John C. Business Center at NACCIMA, National Head Quarters, noted that signing the AFTCTA agreement would make the local manufacturers to enhance their capacity utilisation.
The NACCIMA President further said signing the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) by the federal government will help reposition the competitiveness of locally manufactured goods.
She pointed out that signing the agreement now does not mean automatic application of the treaty but it will put the government on its toes for further other trade issues needed to be addressed before the deal becomes operational, adding that such trade treaty will lead to the country to fixing and improving on the much needed infrastructure that are capable of global competitiveness.
Lawson maintained that when proper trade policies are put in place and judiciously enforced, that the country has nothing to be afraid of, stressing that it would only bring out the best from Nigeria