By Innocent Anaba
Legal experts have assured that the commencement of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, in January 2021, would boost the economies of member nations.
They gave the assurance at a webinar by the Alliance Law Firm, Lagos on leveraging international trade law for the recovery of the global economy during the post-COVID-19.
Participants at the webinar include keynote speaker, President of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah; Director of Agriculture and Commodities Division, World Trade Organisation, Edwini Kessie; Partner, King and Spalding LLP, Mr. Daniel Crosby; Director of Legal Services, African Export-Import Bank, Ms. Samallie Kiyingi, and the immediate past Registrar, UNIRMCT, Dr. Olufemi Elias.
Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law, NBA-SBL, Mr. Seni Adio(SAN); Chairman, International Trade Law Committee and Managing Partner, Alliance law firm, Uche Val Obi(SAN) and the Principal Partner, Folashade Alli and Associates, Mrs Folashade Alli moderated the event.
Oramah, in his address, explained that in the absence of international cooperation towards a shared growth and prosperity at the world level, Africa has to take her destiny in her own hands via AfCFTA.
“Thank God our leaders have risen to the challenge. The AfCFTA provides that alternative. The journey for a rich Africa has already begun with the signing of AfCFTA,” he said and lamented that the emergence of COVID-19 had caused the shift of the commencement of the agreement from July 2020 to January 2021.
He stressed that AfCFTA is expected to boost inter-Africa trade and charged lawyers to advise governments and stakeholders on the essential elements of the agreement.
Speaking on how Nigeria could use the emergence of COVID-19 to address its challenges, the organiser, Obi (SAN), noted that the country hesitated in signing the agreement on the excuse that it wanted to carry all stakeholders along.
He maintained that it was never in contest that AfCFTA was a very relevant continental pact meant for the economic growth of member states.
According to him, the closure of land borders by Nigeria in October 2019 to curb smuggling aggravated the situation, adding: “This is because it was coming on the heels of the pressure to sign the AfCFTA pact.”