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Nigeria needs to improve its business environment to harness gains from AfCFTA ~CBN Gov

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday said improving the business environment in Nigeria is vital if “we are to harness the gains from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).”

According to the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN through its Trade Monitoring System portal (TRMS) is also helping to reduce the time it takes to complete export documentation process.

Emefiele spoke at a virtual 2021 Export Seminar organised by Zenith Bank Plc on Tuesday,

He said faster turnaround time could help to reduce delivery time for goods destined for exports and enable businesses expand their output.

“Today, businesses can complete their NXP applications on the TRMS portal in 30 minutes relative to two years ago, where it could take as much as two weeks to complete the process,” Emefiele said.

“Supporting greater trade within Africa would also require the presence of a viable payment settlement system. In this regard, the CBN is working with key stakeholders in the African continent, particularly the Afrexim Bank to improve the underlying payment infrastructure to support greater intra-regional trade, through the Pan African Payments and Settlement System(PAPSS).

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“This initiative will enable payments in our local currency for goods in other African countries and vice versa, without the need for a third-party currency.

“This initiative will help to reduce the cost of cross border trade, improve convertibility of the Naira, and increase trade opportunities for Nigerian businesses in Africa.

He said while Nigeria stands to gain from expanded trade, it is also important that the country pay attention to the cost that expanded trade through the AFCFTA could have on local businesses and communities.

Emefiele said smuggling of goods produced in non-African countries into Nigeria, and abuse of rules of origin have often resulted in significant job losses and displacements of workers in key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and manufacturing.

“It is vital that we work with the governing body of the AFCFTA in addressing these concerns, as it has profound implications on unemployment and security in Nigeria.

“We would also like to urge existing exporters, that they endeavor to repatriate their export proceeds as required by law.

“The CBN guarantees that exporters will have unfettered access to their export proceeds. and we do expect that exporters would reciprocate the good gestures of the Bank by repatriating their export proceeds to improve foreign exchange inflows into the country,” the regulatory bank chief said.

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