Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Nigeria to go back on Africa’s free trade pact

Nigeria may be reneging on its earlier decision to back out of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, agreement, as the federal government concludes consultations on the matter.

The country had declined assent to the arrangement at the last extraordinary meeting of the African Union held in Kigali, capital of Rwanda.

Recall that the Federal Government had initially agreed to sign the pact but later backed out, arguing that it needed time for consultations back home before endorsing it. President Buhari warned that Nigeria will not assent to any agreement that will undermine local manufacturers or turn Nigeria to a dumping site.

Some stakeholders had criticized President Buhari for pulling out of the CFTA which the AU is confident will create a bloc with cumulative GDP of $2.5trillion.

After its March 2018 decision in Kigali, the Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations, NOTN, headed by Amb. Chiedu Osakwe held stakeholders’ sensitization and consultations across the country’s six geopolitical zones.

Feelers from the consultations indicate support for the AfCFTA, which many believe will lead to competition among manufacturers and speed up infrastructure development in the country.

The Communications Assistant to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Emenike Chibuzor, hinted that the Presidential Committee on AfCFTA met to discuss findings from the consultations.

This was the second time the committee would meet to discuss the pact, an indication that Nigeria is still interested in it.

The presidential committee was charged with the responsibility of widening consultations on the framework establishing free trade pact in Africa. The latest meeting was co-chaired by the trade minister, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Nigeria’s Chief Negotiator, Amb. Chiedu Osakwe, reported the feedback from the stakeholders’ sensitization and consultations across the country with sector-specific groups, labour, think tanks and civil society.

Speaking at the event, minister Enelamah commended the efforts of NOTN and stated that the committee will continue to consult.

A technical drafting group, led by Amb. Osakwe was mandated by Enelamah and Foreign Affairs minister, Onyeama to immediately finalize the draft report.

 

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