Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said that the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will only be realised if countries that signed the deal adopt fair trade practices.
He made this disclosure at the 3rd edition of the Zenith Bank International Trade seminar with the theme, “Non –Oil export in Nigeria: Emerging Opportunities, financing options and African Regional Trade Integration (AfCFTA),” brought together key industry stakeholders, including exporters, which held in Lagos.
Emefiele, who was represented at the event by the Lagos Branch Controller, CBN, Dr Ekhator Atise Johnson, stated that although AfCFTA holds a lot of benefit for Nigeria, other countries must ensure that they don’t allow the trans-shipment of subsidized imports to get into Nigeria and negatively impact the country’s economy.
The CBN governor’s remarks came amid an ongoing closure of the country’s land borders by the Nigerian authorities.
The Federal Government announced the border closure in mid-August, a move it said, was aimed at strengthening the nation’s security as well as curbing smuggling of rice and other restricted commodities.
Emefiele said: “While I believe AfCFTA has a lot of benefits for Nigeria as it would enable our producers to assess other markets within the continent, it is important that all other parties engage in fair trade.
“If the agreement is going to be of value to our country, the situations where other countries allow transhipment of subsidized imports that will harm our local farmers and producers cannot and should not be tolerated.”
The CBN helmsman, who commended Zenith Bank for organizing the seminar, said the theme of the event was “apt and timely.”
He pledged that the apex bank would continue to implement policies that will improve productivity in the country and boost the growth of non-oil exports.
According to him, “a more diversified export base will help to create stable growth and also help to create jobs. It will also help to improve our non-export earnings thereby insulating our economy from volatility in international oil markets.”
In his speech at the event, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Zenith Bank, Ebenezer, said that stimulation of the non-oil sector would drive economic growth.
Onyeagwu, who was represented by the CEO, Zenith Bank (Ghana), Mr Henry Oroh, said, “The most viable option for us as a nation lies in stimulating the non-oil exports.
“Zenith Bank saw this emerging opportunity early and has developed robust financial products and incentives for Operators in the sector to drive the much-needed growth.
“Escalating trade policy uncertainties remain the biggest risk to the future of the global trading system, causing the slowest pace of growth of the global economy since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, according to the IMF.
“The synchronized economic slowdown and volatility in commodity prices have continued to underscore the vulnerability of our weighty dependence on crude oil as a major source of foreign exchange earnings.
“These developments have prompted an awakening and introspection among policymakers and key stakeholders in our country on the need for accelerated economic diversification and the search for alternative revenue sources.”