The President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode has applauded the Federal Government over the decision to make Nigeria a signatory to the establishment of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
It could be recalled that on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved that Nigeria should sign the framework agreement for the establishment of the initiative which will be sealed by regional leaders during the Extraordinary Meeting of African Union Heads of State and Government scheduled to hold on March 21, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda.
The President in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, 15th March, 2018 said the agreement represents a major opportunity for Nigerian businesses to gain greater access to the fast growing African market.
“It is vital that Nigerian businesses continue to diversify their export markets and with this agreement, trade barriers for companies across a number of sectors will be reduced thereby creating access to new markets within Africa.
“Intra African trade as a driver for economic diversification can help to harness the unexploited opportunities that exist in many product categories particularly food and agricultural products.
“I am optimistic that, the AfCFTA could increase intra-Africa trade by about 52 per cent, resulting in an increase of African manufacturing exports from the current average in which manufacturing only represents about 10 per cent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Africa.
“The potential for the AfCFTA is big for both structural transformation and poverty alleviation in Africa. Nigerian businesses will have access to nearly 1.2 billion consumers through this agreement and Nigeria’s engagement in this region is important as it builds our presence in markets where we should be doing much more business”, he informed.
According to him, the Chamber would do everything it can to ensure that Nigerian businesses take full advantage of the opportunities that are being created by virtue of the AfCFTA and it will work with the Government to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the agreement.
He also assured that the Chambers in particular and indeed the organized Private Sector (OPS) in general will continue to support the government in the second phase of the negotiations of the AfCFTA.
While calling on the government to work closely with all sectors to guarantee broad-based implementation of the AfCFTA, he enjoined the federal government to take all possible policy measures to ensure that the Nigerian business environment remains a competitive destination for investment in all sectors of the economy.
He noted that the Agreement to establish the AfCFTA will launch the Single Liberalized Market for Trade in Goods and Services and will serve as a negotiated rules-based system, to establish the rule of law in trade, deepen, and expand intra-Africa trade.