The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has said that a recent study conducted and launched by the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) did not address the concerns of manufacturers.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Lagos, Frank Udemba Jacobs, president of MAN, said that the independent study fell short of standards and lacked the much-needed information required to take an informed decision.
Jacobs said MAN had since commissioned a study and would have the report in a month’s time.
According to him, the concerns of manufacturers that were not captured in the report included the impact of AfCFTA on the country’s tax structure, government revenue and the welfare of over 180million Nigerians, impact on the industrialisation and economic development aspirations of Nigeria, its fiscal and monetary implications on Nigeria, as well as justifications for agreeing to the proposed movement of 90 per cent of tariff lines to zero duty.
Other concerns which the NOTN study failed to address, according to Jacobs, were: status of non-tariff charges, levies, incentives, waivers and exemptions currently operational in Nigeria, fiscal implications of AfCFTA on the income of governments and regional economic communities, as well as product lines that had been agreed for liberalisation, for exclusion and sensitive list.
He advised the federal government to stay action on the AfCFTA until MAN concludes its painstaking study that addressed these concerns.
“In the light of recent developments, we considered it necessary to intimate you that an insignificant number of non-real sector operators in the private sector are tactfully recommending that Mr President should sign the agreement under the camouflage that majority of Nigerians and the organised private sector agrees with their position.
“They are essentially not at home with the technicalities of a trade agreement of this magnitude. The pronouncement of this group of actors is not representative of the views of the organised private sector of Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to report that the presidents of the organised private sector at its meeting on July 24 had in attendance the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association and the National Association of Small Scale Industries. They affirmed that our country should be circumspect on the decision to sign the AfCFTA and that we should await the outcome of a credible study that should guide our negotiations. Although, NASME could not attend the meeting, it is equally supportive of the position,” he pointed out.
He reiterated that President Muhammadu Buhari should not sign the AfCFTA agreement until the outcome of a credible study so indicated. He recommended that the president allow the country’s team to resume participation in the negotiation processes only to ensure that the country was abreast of developments.
The AfCFTA is a trade treaty that seeks to unify the African economy by reducing all trade barriers. Over 45 countries, including South Africa, have already signed up, but Nigeria is yet to do so, as the federal government, in line with the position of local manufacturers, said it was not yet ready to endorse any agreement that would jeopardise Nigerian industries.
The AfCFTA is easily the largest trade agreement since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1994. It is targeted at creating a single market for Africa’s 1.2 billion people and exposing each country to a $3.4 trillion opportunity.
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) had last Monday urged the president to sign the AfCFTA as soon as possible.
“As we speak today, there is no objective basis for asking the President to sign the AfCFTA, and those canvassing it have not given us any reason,” Segun Ajayi-Kadir, director-general of MAN, said.
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