African Continental Free Trade Area will enhance the ease of doing business – Amb. Chinedu Osakwe
Director General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), Ambassador Chinedu Osakwe, said the African situation is the basis for economic operations and integration. The statement was made at a Stakeholder’s Sensitization Workshop organized by the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (NIALS) in Abuja on Monday.
While delivering his lecture on the topic “Trade Negotiations and Update on the Continental Free Trade Area”, Amb. Osakwe said that for years, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiations had not made any head way, but that the negotiation progress started with Nigerian leadership in 2017.
“The stages of AfCFTA negotiations will cover trade in goods and services, intellectual property, competition and investment. AfCFTA will regulate trade in a common rules-based system for increasing trade in goods and services through reduction of tariffs and Non-Tariff Barriers. Disputes will be resolved through agreed rules and procedures. Consultation and sensitization will commence in Kano,” he added.
Speaking further Osakwe said: “AfCFTA will help to expand market access for Nigerian exporters, increase Nigerian Industrial and competitive policies through negotiations and agreements, ease of doing business, increase productivity etc.”
The representative of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Mr Usman Sanusi, called on Nigerians to embrace the AfCFTA negotiations, saying that Nigerian trade policy is outdated and needs improvement and it is on this that fears of unknown comes in, based on the manners businesses are being carried out.
“Business men are not protected, but with this new innovation, AfCFTA is here to put things in right places to see that it is well implemented and that both manufacturers and traders are protected.
“Nigeria has no other continent than the African continent and therefore it cannot stand aside in the face of the transformations that are sweeping across the continent. It must not only cash in and ensure most things if not everything are in her favour. Nigeria’s endorsement of the agreement must however take on all the concerns of the stakeholders’ seriously and attend to them, swiftly.
“NACCIMA is in support of AfCFTA and recommends that adequate fund be provided by the Govt for the negotiations to enable negotiators make adequate preparations. Capacity training be carried out by NOTN members to succeed in their process, subcommittee be set up to conduct or oversee Baseline and Sectoral Studies to enable them utilize the outcome,” he added.
In delivering his speech, Prof. Jonathan Aremu, Head of the Trade Policy Commission at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), stated that the opportunity of AfCFTA in Nigeria will enhance economic and political reform, security, increase performance, investment efficiency, intra-regional trade and investment.
According to him: “Cooperation and integration among African members state in the economic, social and cultural field are indispensable for continental development aspirations.”
He made this statement based on the fact that Africa is currently infested with lower share of world trade, deepest level of poverty and weakest development of human capital and infrastructure opportunities.
“Nigeria can both gain and lose from AfCFTA, it is important that the country enter the continental economic integration cognizant of these dynamics so as to minimize the losses while simultaneously maximizing the benefits,” he said.
Nigerian Bar Association’s Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) Chairman Olumide Akpata was one of the panelists while Prof. Peter Akper, first Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was the moderator.
View Nigeria’s schedule of AfCFTA Sensitization and Consultation activities.