Finally, Nigeria ratifies African continental free trade treaty
By Oludare Mayowa
Finally, Nigeria on Wednesday joined Angola and 29 other African nations to ratify its membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa had in a statement this week said Nigeria and 23 other countries are yet to ratify the continental free trade treaty, less than two months to the take off of the trade pact on Jan 1.
At the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave its approval for Nigeria to fully ratify the treaty, becoming the 31st member nations of the African Union to do so.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who disclosed this after the cabinet meeting said with the ratification, Nigeria has beaten the December 5, 2020, deadline set for all countries to ratify their membership.
AfCTA was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.
“The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment presented a memo today (Wednesday) asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“You remember that on July 7, 2019, Nigeria signed the AfCTA agreement in Niamey during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.
“The effective date ought to have been July 2020. But as a result of the pandemic, it was postponed to January 1, 2021, and all member-states were given up to December 5 to ratify the agreement.
“That is precisely what Nigeria did today. The Federal Executive Council approved the ratification of the membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It was ratified and as such, we beat the deadline of December 5. Effectively, we hope that by January 1, 2021, the agreement will come into force,” Mohammed told reporters covering the state house in Abuja.
With the ratification of the treaty by Nigeria, the ball is now in the court of the remaining 23 countries to do likewise, while Eritrea remains the only country that has not even signed the AfCFTA Agreement.
The 23 remaining countries to ratify the treaty are; Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Zambia.