By Victoria Ojeme and Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adebayo, yesterday, disclosed that African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, provides Africa a combined Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of $3.4 trillion.

Adebayo made this known at the subnational strategy workshop, with the theme: “Creating Economically Viable Communities,” organized by the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, in Abuja.

According to him, AfCFTA will also eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of tradable goods over five years for developing countries and ten years for least developed countries and custom unions.

He added that it will expand market access for Nigeria’s exporters of goods and services which he noted would in turn, catalyse production growth and boost job creation for the economy.

He stated: “The opportunities we have been presented with by the agreement is access to a single market in Africa with a population of 12 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion.

“AfCFTA is also interesting for Nigeria because Africa demands finished goods and Nigeria aspires to Industrialize and progress beyond export of commodities.

The African Continental Free Trade Area can act as a catalyst for Nigeria’s export diversification, by providing preferential access to Nigeria products and services to the huge African market which currently sources over 85 percent of imports from outside the continent.

“It also provides immense opportunities for Nigerian companies to expand to Africa especially in areas of oil and gas, financial services, fintech, tourism services, e-commerce, and manufacturing where we have already developed significant domestic capabilities.”

He noted that the National Action Committee on AfCFTA has completed the development of a National AfCFTA Implementation plan, which he said is currently undergoing adoption in the participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, MDAs.

To this end, he enjoined all stakeholders to collaborate with the National Action Committee on AfCFTA on the implementation of the AfCFTA.

In his keynote address, Executive Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said that AfCFTA will provide employment opportunities for Nigerians only if the nation will incorporate consideration for the agreement into its development plans.

He said that AfCFTA has created new business opportunities for multiple sectors in the continent, noting that for Nigeria to be a full beneficiary of these benefits, the nation should embrace trade facilitation.

He said: “With AfCFTA, the country is well on its way to becoming a multisector giant in being a benefactor from benefits such as regional supply chain and job creation.

“However this growth can be achieved better by availing the opportunities enshrined within the AfCFTA with new and improved trade opportunities, creating enhanced regional supply network, domestic job opportunities and capacity building.

“But for Nigeria to benefit fully from these opportunities and position itself competitively, the subnational government should incorporate consideration for the agreement into our development plans.”

According to him, a full plunge into the numerous benefits of the AfCFTA by the Federation will increase direct investment in the economy. He said for this to take effect, ideological limitations are to be broken down for the country to avail itself of these opportunities.

He added that Nigeria has to embrace trade facilitation, saying that it will only happen when “our regulatory bodies change their mentality of how they see the nation’s state and the artificial borders that we create for ourselves. Trade facilitation is what will make AfCFTA work better in our environment.”

Fayemi assured that the Nigeria Governors Forum will continue to partner with the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement towards the implementation of the subnational strategic plan at the same time calling for the domestication of the agreement which was signed in July 2019 for implementation at the subnational level.

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