President Muhammad Buhari has signed the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)
The signing took place at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on AfCFTA and the First Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities in Niamey, Niger Republic.
Experts believed that for AfCFTA to be advantageous to Nigeria, the industrial sector of the economy has to be improved upon.
They believed that the implication of the signing of AfCFTA is that Nigeria will become a dumping ground for goods from better industrially developed countries who are signatories to the said agreement.
Buhari appended his signature to the document about 10.48 am on Sunday.
Nigeria has become the 53rd county in Africa to sign the AfCFTA agreement.
Buhari accepted to sign the agreement after a presidential panel he set up to look into the AfCFTA advised that Nigeria would benefit economically from the envisaged trade relations with other African countries.
However, the panel noted that some negative impacts included massive smuggling that could turn Nigeria into a dumping ground for goods produced outside of Africa.But, speaking at the event in Niamey, Buhari noted that much as Nigeria supported free trade among the African countries, the trade must also be fair to all.
He said, “Nigeria wishes to emphasise that free trade must also be fair trade.
‘‘As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hard-working population.
‘‘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.”
Buhari spoke in details on Nigeria’s position on the trade agreement, especially on how best to make it successful.
He stated, ‘‘I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the 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.
‘‘It is against this background that we embarked on an extensive nationwide consultation and sensitisation programme of our domestic stakeholders on the AfCFTA.
‘‘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.’’