The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has called on the Federal Government to immediately sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTFA) to make the economy more competitive.
The National President, Chief Alaba Lawson, made the call at a press conference on Monday in Lagos.
He urged the Federal Government to take full advantage of the AfCFTA and eradicate non-tariff and regulatory barriers to international trade.
“While we continue to address the issues around the AfCFTA, we should sign the agreement now and set up an all-embracing implementation Committee in readiness for when it will finally take off.
“Nigeria was deeply involved in the negotiations from the beginning and indeed we chaired the process.
“Currently, while the AfCFTA is entering critical stages and negotiations are going on in priority sectors in member countries, our nation is dithering and still ruminating.
“Nigeria cannot afford to lose out in the opportunities inherent in a common African market. You cannot negotiate what you are not part of,” she said.
Addressing other economic issues, Lawson urged the Federal Government to do more to create a stable and enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“Inflation rate has fallen for sixteen consecutive months, from 18.72 per cent in January 2017 to 11.61 per cent in May 2018.
“Although this is commendable, it is still double digit inflation and certainly not good enough,” said Lawson.
She reiterated the association’s commitment to capacity development and youth empowerment as well as improving the capacity of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“SMEs have been identified as a veritable platform that can provide jobs for millions of our young people, just like China did and was able to lift about three hundred million people out of poverty within a decade.
“We should provide incentives and access to capital for our SMEs to expand their productive capacities to let them thrive and make significant contributions to provision of employment to our people,” Lawson said.
Speaking on the 2018 budget, she stated that funds borrowed to fund the budget must be applied to capital projects and not concurrent expenses or to the ongoing electioneering process.
According to her, good infrastructure will support the activities of 37 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which employ over 60 million people in Nigeria.
She also called for policies and incentives to address issues of financing, taxation, capacity building, infrastructure, copyright and piracy, amongst others, to ensure the continuous growth of the creativity and entertainment sector.
“Our creativity industry has grown in leaps and bounds.
“It is reported to contribute 2.3 per cent (N239 billion) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016 and has become a veritable avenue through which Nigerian culture is exported to the world.
“NACCIMA recognises the Creative Industry as a new frontier worth exploring in view of its potential to make significant contribution to the economy, create jobs especially for young people,” said Lawson.