Nigeria Must Control AfCFTA $3.4trn Economic Bloc—FG
By Adedapo Adesanya
As the take-off date for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) of January 1, 2021 approaches, the federal government has urged Nigerian business owners, particularly industrialists, to take advantage of inherent opportunities to promote Made-in-Nigeria goods.
This call was made by Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment through a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Ifedayo Sayo in Abuja.
The Minister said Nigeria could not afford to be left out of the emerging African economic block, stressing that AfCFTA would form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, which Nigeria must play a leading role.
AfCFTA, which is the world’s largest free trade area in terms of 54 participating countries, will signal the beginning of the implementation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments across Africa.
According to the Minister, the journey started on July 7, 2019, when Nigeria became the 53rd African country to sign the AfCFTA treaty.
“Before then, it has always been the dream of Nigeria and Africa’s founding fathers to unite the continent in one, shared prosperity.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, which Nigeria cannot afford to be left out.
“We have worked tirelessly to ensure that Nigeria not only partakes as a signatory in name but become a major trade and economic powerhouse, even more than we have been within the ECOWAS region,” he said.
Also speaking on measures taken by the government towards the effective implementation of AfCFTA, the Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Mr Francis Anatogu expressed Nigeria’s readiness for the commencement of AfCFTA.
Mr Anatogu said it was effectively coordinating with all critical stakeholders to ensure a smooth playing field for Nigerian traders and businessmen to explore the vast markets that would be opened up come 2021.
“We are set to commence a major communication campaign and have tagged January 2021 as AfCFTA Awareness and Sensitisation month.
“This will take place across the six geopolitical zones, and would involve various stakeholder groups in public, private and civil society sectors, as well as other critical traditional institutions,” he said.
Established in May 30, 2018, the agreement has been signed by 54 AU member countries and ratified by 31 AU member countries, including Nigeria in July 2019 and November 2020 respectively.
AfCFTA is expected to help expand Nigeria’s inter-trade portfolio, boost competitiveness and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The scheme provides for a tariff-free regime that would cover 90 per cent of all traded goods and services, and would expectedly become practically operational from next month.