The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) played host to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamet, as part of activities during his visit to Nigeria on 24 – 26 October 2018
The event which held on 25th October 2018 at the conference hall of the NIPC Head Office, was the occasion of a stakeholder consultative meeting on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) which Nigeria is one of the six countries on the continent that is yet to sign on.
The meeting was convened to discuss with both the public and private sector and stakeholders in Nigeria.
The chairperson, while addressing participants recalled that the continent’s economic integration started with Nigeria, at Abuja treaty in 1991 and that the political commitment to this integration is not in question.
He stated that the private sector has a place of choice here because it is the private sector that creates jobs and ensure development of the continent.
Therefore, the active participation of this sector in the implementation of the African ‘63 agenda is critical and its concerns on the AFCFTA businesses to thrive.
Mr. Mahamat also noted that the role of Nigeria is well known given its economic and demographic power where business flourishes.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the NIPC represent by Mr. Reusen Kifasi observed that the AFCFTA which is expected to increase African trade by 52.3% is said to have challenges including:
• Predatory trade policies and quota, tariffs- despite signing protocols and commitment
• Xenophobic practices in countries against nationals of other countries
• Visa issues and trade restrictions
• Transport connectivity- Easier to connect African countries through Europe
However, he also listed the positive potential outcome access in AFCFTA to Nigeria as
• Market access in Africa for Nigerian products and business
• Opportunity to formalize informal trade
• Increase in growth potential for Nigerian Business
At the event, the Nigeria Organised Private Sector represented by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Mines and Agriculture (ABUCCIMA) contended that they are not in opposition of signing the agreement by Nigeria but only exercising caution to ensure all interests are considered through a cost/benefit analysis.
They are indeed supportive of the AFCFATA once their concerns which are not limited to identifying opportunities but the risks as well are addressed.
The Public Sector speakers included the Nigeria Export Import Bank which stressed that its strategic objective is to contribute towards raising the current low level of intra-regional trade that stands at about 15% in Africa to a level comparable to other regions in Europe and Asia.
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPFA) which manages free zones operations in Nigeria observed that while Nigeria, provides for willing entrance and exit in the zones, the AFCFTA is not designed to be so, which is why the Nigerian government is trying to ensure it is going to be a win-win situation for all parties concerned.