Trade experts on Wednesday validated Nigeria’s implementation strategies for success under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
They spoke in Lagos at the final validation roundtable by stakeholders prior to the presentation to the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) for President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.
A former Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu, said the validation of Nigeria’s strategy choices on how to win under the AfCFTA was critical.
Anatogu said Nigeria’s strategies outlined deliberate choices based on its market location, the country’s strengths, and areas of preparedness for Nigerian businesses to trade in Africa and beyond.
He said the country, understanding its problems of revenue and foreign income, needed to fashion a way out through increased productivity and international trade.
Inside the strategy document, Anatogu said some policies and others requiring updating have been identified showing the need for the creation of new laws to ensure Nigeria leads Africa.
“We are validating the strategies and also sensitizing businesses on choices for better positioning. Once the strategies are validated, they would be sent to the Chairman of the National Action Committee, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment for approval by the FEC.
“At the end of the day, some of these policies would need to be backed by law, leading to an update of the laws we have already and the creation of new laws to make sure Nigeria leads Africa.
“Trade is technical and complex. So, understanding how each company in Nigeria can trade and win, is important,” he said.
Also, a Consultant, Common Investment Market, ECOWAS, Jonathan Aremu, said the country’s strategy considered not only the technical aspects of compliance, but also the opportunities for substantial domestic macroeconomic reforms.
Aremu said the strategy, which repositioned the country’s economy for AfCFTA, would impact trade, investment, private sector engagement, and sustainable productive capacity.
The strategy, he said, provides the logic of positioning Nigeria for AfCFTA implementation with a strong institutional and governance framework by the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the government collaborating with the private sector.
“Positioning Nigeria for better macroeconomic performance, under the AfCFTA, requires better infrastructure, freer movement of goods, people and capital. It also requires improved digital connectivity, access to finance, a supportive business environment, adequate investments, and trade facilitation,” he said.
Contributing, Consultant, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Soji Awogbade, said focus must be placed on ensuring that extant domestic laws were examined for alignment with the provisions of AfCFTA for its successful implementation.
Awogbade said that 378 relevant laws, regulations, and policies were reviewed to determine whether there was a divergence with the spirit and objectives of the AfCFTA.
Of the laws, he said 26 were found to contain provisions somewhat in conflict with the goals of the AfCFTA.
He recommended that an AfCFTA Domestication Bill should be drafted and sponsored as an Executive Bill in the National Assembly to facilitate a smooth legislative process.
“The Nigeria International Trade Commission Bill, proposed by the TIG Consultant, should amongst other provisions, endow the Minister of Trade with the powers to review and designate target state parties for reciprocity considerations under local regulatory requirements.
“Adequate engagement should be held with the Ministry of Trade to review and revalidate the inactive trade between Nigeria and Algeria, Egypt and Morocco.
“Adequate consultations/engagements should be held with stakeholders in the service sectors where legislative reviews are recommended to enable participatory and expeditious acceptance of the proposed reviews,” he said.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Evelyn Ngige, called for workable and patriotic policies that would improve the lot of Nigeria under the AfCFTA.
“Policies are sensitive and if not worked on properly, would not turn out well so the charge is to come out with policies that would improve trade for Nigeria first then for Africa,” Ngige represented by Simon Omo-Ezomo, Director, Special Duties in the ministry said. (NAN)
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