Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, has urged Nigerian investors and business owners to harness and maximise the business opportunities that are inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
According to the bank, this will boost intra-Africa trade beyond the current level of 17 per cent as well as promote industrialisation and the economic growth of the continent.
The chief executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Wole Adeniyi, made the call at the African Continental Free Trade Area webinar organised by Stanbic IBTC themed: ‘AfCFTA State of Play: Understanding Potential and Maximising Opportunities for the Customer’.
Adeniyi stated that multiple studies have shown that the increase in trade has a direct impact on reducing unemployment and poverty in societies, noting that the AfCFTA agreement presents numerous trade opportunities that are both exciting and promising not just for the continent but specifically for the Nigerian market.
He emphasised Stanbic IBTC’s readiness to leverage on the trade opportunities of the AfCFTA agreement to unlock business opportunities for its clients in the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) sector as well as its corporate clients.
The guest speaker, lead consultant at 3T Impex Trade Academy, Bamidele Ayemibo, pointed out that with the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement, Africa has the opportunity of becoming the largest market in the world with a population of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.
Ayemibo underscored that the goal of AfCFTA is to create a single market for Africa and encourage the free movement of goods and services thereby facilitating trade transactions.
He pointed out that Nigerian customers can take advantage of the non-sensitive list, the sensitive list and the exclusive list in the agreement while engaging in various trade transactions with other African countries.
According to him, out of about 5,000 Harmonised System (HS) codes or products in the world that falls under the non-sensitive list, 90 per cent will be dutyfree and Nigerian customers can take advantage of this.
He added that countries are allowed to liberalise their products under the sensitive list within a period of 10 years while the exclusive list enables countries not to liberalise their products in order to protect that sector of their economy.
Ayemibo stressed that the federal government is currently developing a portal where Nigerian customers and investors can trade with other countries under the AfCFTA agreement.
He further explained that AfCFTA presents a huge potential for Nigerian manufactured products on the African continent because Nigeria produces about 90 per cent of such products that are imported by other African countries.
The African Continental Free Trade Area was created by the agreement that was first signed by 44 African states in March 2018. Nigeria signed the AfCFTA in July 2019 and deposited its instruments of ratification in December 2020 becoming the 34th African country to fully ratify the agreement.