By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Presidency, yesterday, said the recommendations of the Presidential Steering Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA,Impact and Readiness Assessment will be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2019.
Nigeria has not yet signed the AfCFTA agreement, which seeks to remove all forms of restrictions to trade and investment flows within the African continent.
However, the country has launched a nationwide stakeholder consultation with the purpose of reflecting a wide range of views in the technical instruments.
On October 22, 2018 while inaugurating the committee at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari charged it to assess the extent to which Nigeria was ready to join the agreement, and what the impact of doing so would be.
The committee, which was given 12 weeks to conclude its assignment, held wide consultations with industry groups and stakeholders, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN.
While opinion is still divided in Nigeria on the merits and demerits as well as the timing of joining the AfCFTA, the committee has commissioned a study to shed light on the public debate on the issue in the aftermath of a recent report published by MAN.
The report by MAN, among others, noted that if Nigeria ratifies the agreement import surges will range from 27.6 percent for textile, apparel and footwear sub-sector to 180.7 percent, for chemical and pharmaceutical products during the three phases of liberalizing tariff lines with five percent tariff rates.
According to MAN, in contrast, the import surge will be as high as over 2000 percent in motor vehicle assembly sub-sector over 15 years when 10 percent tariff rates are liberalised. This will instantly spell doom for the automotive aspect of Nigeria’s National Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP.
The MAN study also shows differing output, employment and investment effects across manufacturing sub-sectors. For instance, four sub-sectors (Food, beverages and tobacco; wood and wood products; textile, apparel and footwear; and non-metallic) will likely see substantially high rates of increase in imports and import competition coupled with a substantial decrease in output.
Similarly, major changes in employment can be found in three manufacturing sub-sectors: chemical and pharmaceutical products; textile, apparel and footwear; and non-metallic sub-sectors. Some sectors such as electrical and electronics and wood and wood products will lay off workers.