Nigeria wants private sector players to study AfCFTA rules to maximise benefits
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Nigerian businesses and the entire private sector must become conversant and knowledgeable with the rules guiding the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to benefit maximally from the treaty.
AfCFTA, a continental trade treaty that would open the doors for African products and goods to transverse the continent without restriction is expected to come to effect by January 2021.
Osinbajo said this at the opening session of the 52nd Annual National Conference of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) themed: “Nigeria and Manpower Preparedness for the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
“It is imperative for Nigerian businesses to also familiarize themselves with AfCFTA rules because they will have to assist in providing the evidence to trigger action on trade remedies by government,” the Vice President said.
Stressing the importance of capacity building in understanding the operationalization of the AfCFTA, the Vice President noted that “building productive capacity is only the first step. The ability of our businesses and entrepreneurs to integrate successfully into the opportunities of the AfCFTA also depends a great deal on strengthening our domestic ability to facilitate trade.
“Our logistics chains, port processes, and customs procedures must be dynamic and efficient and it is obvious that the capacities of the operators and workers in these areas need to be rapidly upscaled through training including on the use of technologies.
“This is why we are paying particular attention to the rapid implementation of the National Single Window project which we expect to radically improve trade facilitation.
“Given the size of our economy, it is also clear that Nigeria must play a leading role in the harmonization and integration of border management, regulatory cooperation, and the formalization of informal cross-border trade in the continent.
“These actions are necessary to assist and support our MSMEs to be able to make use of the opportunities afforded us by the AfCFTA,” Osinbajo said.
He said Nigeria must strengthen its domestic capacity to produce, disseminate and use reliable trade statistics in order to be able to measure the impact of AfCFTA on the economy.
“This is important not only for monitoring progress but also for establishing safety nets as we implement the AfCFTA.”
Speaking on the Federal Government’s efforts to ensure that Nigeria benefits maximally from the policy, the Vice President said “the creation of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN) was a deliberate decision by this Government to change our approach to trade negotiations by ensuring that our participation is underpinned by top-class technical knowledge and adequate preparations.”
Osinbajo said that “it is imperative that Nigeria continues to lead on AfCFTA negotiations as we move into the second phase that will focus on intellectual property, competition policy and investment policy.
“This will require the scaling up of our official negotiating capacities and the private sector must support this process by bringing its interests, concerns, and understanding of the practical dynamics of international trade to the attention of government and by paying close attention to the negotiation process.”