President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed his decision to suspend signing the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement scheduled to take place in March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The president has been under intense pressure from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and other stakeholders to pressure the President from signing the treaty as it will cripple the manufacturing sector.
After the just concluded African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved that Nigeria should sign the framework agreement for the establishment of the initiative which will be sealed by regional leaders during the Extraordinary Meeting of African Union Heads of State and Government.
But Buhari will no longer be travelling to Kigali for the event because certain key stakeholders in Nigeria indicated that they had not been consulted, for which reason they had some concerns on the provisions of the treaty.
Consequently, Mr. President’s decision is to allow time for broader consultations on the issue.
Earlier, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved that Nigeria should sign the framework agreement for the establishment of the initiative which will be sealed by regional leaders during the Extraordinary Meeting of African Union Heads of State and Government.
The Federal Government approved the appointment of Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe as the Director General with concurrent designation as Chief Negotiator, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN).
The United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms. Vera Songwe estimated that “by eliminating tariffs the CFTA can boost intra-African trade by 52%, and by reducing non-tariff barriers it can be doubled, benefiting African welfare to the tune of $22 billion.”
This is forecast she said is “to especially benefit Africa’s industrial and value-added exports, which tend to generate more employment opportunities than does Africa’s trade outside the continent, which is instead concentrated on capital-intensive raw materials and extractive resources.”
Songwe noted that “such export diversification in turn produces more sustainable growth, rather than that reliance on the vicissitudes of international commodity prices. The enlarged continental market fostered by the CFTA can also help to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for promoting African output and productivity, while improved agricultural trade is needed to help enable ‘Africa to feed Africa’.”