Buhari signs AfCFTA agreement in Niger
Barely two weeks after saying that Nigeria will not rush into the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AfCFTA, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday signed the agreement in Niamey, Niger Republic.
The signing was 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.
Before the Sunday signing, Buhari gave reasons why Nigeria will not be rushed into the AfCFTA treaty.
“Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations. Economic progress is what makes the world go around.
“Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis. The AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on us as a nation and on our region.
“As Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, we cannot afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders,” Buhari said.
The AfCFTA treaty is one of the flagship initiatives of the African Union Agenda 2063, aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons, investments and a single currency across the continent.
Also, the treaty commits countries to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and liberalise services, while sensitive items, which make up the balance 10 per cent, will be phased out later as tariff-free.
The first phase of the agreement was adopted and signed by the African Union Heads of States and governments at its 10th Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.
With virtually all 54 member-countries of the AU signing up to the agreement, to signify the readiness of the treaty to come into effect, the Nigerian government is insisting on completing consultations with interest groups, to weigh the impact of the treaty on the country’s economy.
Nigeria has become the 53rd county in Africa to sign the AfCFTA agreement.