Nigeria’s chief trade negotiator/director-general, Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, has disclosed that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has the potential to stimulate the nation’s economy with an increase of $2.9billion in 2018.
Speaking with business editors in Abuja, yesterday, Osakwe explained that the outcome of the nationwide consultation between 15th March and 28th June, showed that 69 percent of people consulted said the AfCFTA would be advantageous to Nigeria.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Nigeria made last minute withdrawal on March 21st in Kigali, the Rwandan capital at the African meeting of Heads of States on signing of the AfCTA, citing inadequate stakeholders’ consultation before committing to the pact.
The government thereafter constituted a Presidential Committee charged with the responsibility of widening consultations on the framework agreement establishing the AfCTA.
Osakwe also disclosed that international and domestic studies carried out showed that the AfCFTA is estimated to stimulate 8.8 percent increase in Nigeria’s total exports, with a small structural shift in the nation’s economy towards manufacturing and services.
He also outlined other benefits of the AfCFTA to include but not limited to; integrating the informal sector into the formal sector, empowering women, investing in trade infrastructure to reverse the systemic deficit and dilapidated one, reducing the cost of money which precludes trade finance/micro credits and finance for MSMEs.
He added that AfCFTA will foster enabling environment for business that will eliminate; multiple and proliferating taxation by government and tolls along the highways, numerous internal checkpoints from where bribes are extorted from business persons by security agencies and the problem of violence and insecurity of life and property.
According to him, 28 groups were sensitised and consulted, 1,200 natural persons were involved, as evidenced in completed registration forms; 194 hours were invested in the exercise covering the period 15th March to 14th, June.
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