Our national interests come first at all times says MAN President

L-R:Alhaji Dr Abdullahi bashir, executive council member;Dr Frank Jacob, president;Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, director-general, and Dr Ifeanyi Okoye, executive council member, all of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), during a press conference on African Continental Free Trade Area by MAN in Lagos, yesterday.

Dr Frank Udemba Jacobs, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN) said history is, once again, beckoning on all of us to do all we can in our individual and corporate capacities to ensure that our national interests come first at all times.

Jacobs stated the anxiety of manufacturers was heightened with the apparent lack of consultation and inclusion of inputs of key stakeholders before Nigeria’s position was presented at the meetings of the African Union-Technical Working Group on CFTA in the build-up to AfCFTA negotiation by Nigeria. We were, therefore, worried that specific attention was not given to the cost and benefit analysis of the agreement; the sectors/sub-sectors that would benefit or be worse off and strategy that Government should adopt to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector to compete effectively.

The MAN President revealed at a special press conference on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) held on March 21, 2018 in Ikeja, Lagos that the dissatisfaction of the Organized Private Sector, manufacturers in particular, to the decision of Government to sign the AfCFTA agreement without due consultation with key stakeholders, and consideration for the peculiarities and the possible impact of the Agreement on the manufacturing sector and the economy in general

Dr Jacobs, the MAN President, urge all stakeholders in the Nigeria as a Project, let us come together and carefully consider the following:

“What would be the impact of AfCFTA on the nation’s tax structure, Government revenue and the welfare of over 180million Nigerians?

“What will be the impact of AfCFTA on the political-economic, industrialization and development framework of Nigeria?

“What would be the fiscal and monetary implications of AfCFTA on Nigeria?

“What are the justifications for agreeing to the proposed movement of 90% of tariff lines to 0% duty?

“What would become of non-tariff charges, incentives, waivers and exemptions currently operational in Nigeria?

“What will be the fiscal implications of AfCFTA on the income of Governments and Regional Economic Communities?

“How will non-tariff charges viz-a-viz non-African countries be treated under the AfCFTA regime?

“What is the agreed time frame for the gradual but progressive movement of 90% of tariff line to 0% duty?

“Which product lines have been agreed for liberalization, to be on exclusion and sensitive lists?

 

He reiterated that the absence of plausible answers to these vital questions left us with no option than to call on the Federal Government to be cautious in making binding commitments on AfCFTA.

Jacobs noted that it is pertinent to mention here that MAN is not oblivious of the benefits inherent in installing a continental trade agreement like AfCFTA; as a continental free trade area could improve intra-African trade and enhance economic growth and sustainable development.  However, we hasten to add that Nigeria’s national interest should be the primary consideration in the decision to sign-on to such an arrangement.

 

Therefore MAN made recommendations to Government stating, as matter of urgency, convene a special meeting of the relevant stakeholders, including experts on trade policy to:

 

“Set in motion a process that will enable all stakeholders on the international trade value chain in Nigeria to quickly review the text of the draft AfCFTA agreement and come up with comments on areas that are not in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and sectors;

“Consider tariff lines rates along the line of efficiency, sectoral and sub-sectoral preferences that would be most beneficial to Nigerian businesses under the AfCFTA dispensation;

“Reconsider the National position on EPA vis-a-vis the AfCFTA especially on tariff lines of products on the sensitive/exclusion list, with a view to ensuring that the EU-EPA is not reintroduced through the AfCFTA’s back door;

“Review all the positions of Nigeria presented by NOTN to the AU-TWG-CFTA so far, especially the position on the framework agreement establishing the AfCFTA, protocols on trade in goods and services as well as justifications for the proposed progressive tariff rationalization;

“Mandate NOTN to establish sub-committees of NC-CFTA to review the thematic areas of AfCFTA, to fast track the turning-in of a distinctive position, facilitate the building up of consensus on AfCFTA and other related matters before going for negotiation;

“Obtain and consider ECOWAS position on AfCFTA and mandate NOTN to share the memo on AfCFTA negotiations sent to the Presidency with strategic stakeholders;

“Review presentations and prepare a detailed submission for the Government on ways and means of participating in the AfCFTA in a manner that our national interest and that of the budding manufacturing sector are effectively protected.

MAN president said On behalf of the National Council and members of the Association once again express the immense gratitude to Mr. President (PMB) for his timely action which has culminated in the cancellation of his trip to Rwanda. This reflects a clear demonstration of his commitment to the growth of the manufacturing sector; the preservation of the Service Sector, improvement of the wellbeing of the citizenry and the advancement of the Nigerian economy, he added.

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