By Providence Emmanuel
As the debate on whether or not Nigeria should sign-on to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) rages on, a former Director General of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Dr. John Isemede, has said that the country does not presently have the capacity to compete favourably if the deal is adopted now.
Speaking at a Breakfast Roundtable with the theme, “Business Environment: Maximizing Economic Opportunities through Effective Anti-Illicit Trade Enforcement”, organised by Initiatives for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) in Lagos, Isemede said the Organised Private Sector (OPS) should be at the forefront in decision making on the agreement.
He stated: “OPS cannot be a minority in a committee set up by the government. Put the OPS at the forefront, and then we would know that we are in business, not two out of 20. There are so much inadequacies with AfCFTA, the inadequacy is that we don’t have capacity to compete.
“I am not saying Nigeria should not sign the agreement but it should be clear on what it is bringing to the table because South Africa and Morocco already have an advantage. We must know where we are coming from, what did we get from AGOA?
Meanwhile, Senior Research Fellow, IPPA and University of Aberdeen, Dr Olajide Damilola, has described illicit trade as the production and distribution of consumer goods that fail to comply with governing rules, laws and regulations in the relevant industry/sector and in particular jurisdiction.
He noted that illicit trade is a threat to global economy and estimated to account for up to 15 percent of global GDP, reaching $12 trillion in 2014 according to World Economic Forum 2015.
He stated: “Illicit trade is driven by a common set of factors across the world, divided into three main interrelated categories such as consumer preferences; business environment and regulatory framework. Illicit trade is unlikely to ever be eliminated, but can be protected against. There can be no single policy framework to address the problem of illicit trade. A case-by-case approach targeting specific products will be more effective. A holistic approach is required, which may require strategy beyond the jurisdiction of a country.”