The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, has said the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement implementation plan is currently undergoing adoption in the participation Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
According to the minister, the implementation plan is geared towards ensuring that all existing policy frameworks are put in place so that Nigerian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises can benefit maximally.
Adebayo was speaking on Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement subnational strategy workshop which had the theme “Creating economically viable communities.”
The minister who was represented by the Director-General, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Ambassador Yonov Agah, said based on the work done so far, the successful implementation of the AfCFTA will require active involvement of the state governments as the national implementation must cascade to the subnational and grassroot level.
The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4trn.
In terms of numbers of participating countries, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa suggest that the AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.
It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general.
But Adebayo who is the Chairman of the Implementation Committee added that the objectives of the workshop is to kickstart the development of states AfCFTA strategy, access requirements for successful implementation of the AfCFTA and the management of expected challenges that may arise from the agreement.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, in his address said that states are to incorporate components of the AfCFTA into various development plans in order for the continental trade pact to be successful in Nigeria.
Fayemi, who is the governor of Ekiti State, said trading under AfCFTA’s platform would support the nation’s economy in the area of trade and investments expansion, adding that states must fully key into it to get the maximum benefits.
He said the concerns of the Nigeria Governors Forum on the AfCFTA is the local supply network and the job creations network as well as a change of orientation from some revenue collection agencies of government.
He said, “For us at the NGF, local supply networks, is key so states can leverage domestic strategy consumptions to meet demand, as such there is a need to establish regional network to offer distributions of logistics and supply chain.
“This is because Nigeria contributes 76 per cent of domestic trade in ECOWAS as such AfCFTA will create more opportunity.
“However, we need to caution our agencies especially the Nigerian Customs and Immigration Services to concentrate of trade facilitation rather than revenue generation,
“This is because States are interested in job creation and capacity building under the AfCFTA, and we believe Nigeria with multi-sector professionals should be able to expand knowledge and skills transfer and stimulate job creations, so that the result will be mutually beneficial.”
He said the Secretariat of the NGF has been directed to prioritize collaborations with National Action Committee to ensure all grey areas are sorted out