By Naomi Uzor
The Organised Private Sector, has agreed that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), will do the economy of the country more good than harm.
Speaking at the stakeholder sensitization and consultation in the six geopolitical zones in Lagos, the National Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Engr. Jani Ibrahim said 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.
“Nigeria’s endorsement of the agreement must however take on all the concerns of the stakeholders’ seriously and attend to them, swiftly” he said.
In principle, he said, NACCIMA has no objection to the signing of the AfCFTA subject to the remediation of the issues raised and articulated.
The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Mr. Babatunde Ruwase said AfCFTA offers a potential of the largest free trade area in the World: AfCFTA would create a single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union with free movement of capital and business travellers.
“This agreement gives birth to the world’s largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization which was formed in 1995. This is in terms of the number of countries, covering more than 1.2 billion people and about $4 trillion in combined consumer and business spending if all 55 countries in Africa join the agreement” he said.
He noted that one of the major concerns about Nigeria being a signatory to the AfCFTA was the fear of numerous bilateral trade agreements of some AU countries with the rest of the world and Nigeria’s underdeveloped industrial and infrastructural sector.
“It has been argued that this could potentially make Nigeria a dumping ground due to our uncompetitive manufacturing profile, market size and population. These are legitimate concerns of private sector players. It is therefore imperative to deepen consultation in order to address these concerns. The objective of this dialogue is to ensure that the views and concerns on both sides are properly ventilated, understood and harmonised for the good of all” he stated.