The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Public Matters, Mr. Francis Anatogu, said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would offer Nigeria an opportunity to achieve her age-long dream of revenue base diversification from crude oil which has been the mainstay of the economy for over fifty years now. Anatogu, who is also the Secretary of the Nigeria’s National Action Committee on AfCFTA, made the assertion at the Committee’s first Stakeholders Sensitization Seminar held virtually last Thursday, a statement released and copied to The Commerce Africa on Sunday read.
The statement reads further: “As part of its preparations for the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) scheduled for January, 2021 the Nigeria’s National Action Committee under the leadership of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, on September 24, 2020 brought together strategic stakeholders from private and public sectors for knowledge sharing.
“In his keynote remarks, The Minister underscored the importance of the Seminar, saying: “With the Stakeholder Sensitization, the National Action Committee hoped to begin a long and engaging conversation with all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and stakeholders on what the AfCFTA will mean for them.”
“Highlighting the significance of the Seminar, the Secretary of the Committee and Special Assistant to the President on Public Matters, Francis Anatogu, said: “The stakeholders are an integral part of the AfCFTA drive that would ensure a smooth, seamless and beneficial implementation of the agreement.”
“Describing the AfCFTA as a vehicle for Nigeria’s quest for economic diversification, Anatogu said: “For as long as we depend on crude oil revenue, our economic prosperity will depend on oil prices which sadly continued to fall in the recent time. The solution is to expand non-oil exports and AfCFTA gives us the opportunity to do that.”
“In her paper presentation titled ‘Effects of AfCFTA on the Nigerian Economy in Relation to Foreign Direct Investment and Domestic Direct Investment,’ the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Ms. Yewande Sadiku, told the participants why Nigeria is more ready for the operationalization of the AfCFTA than most African countries, arguing that: “Many Nigerian companies, particularly in the services sector, have long developed the capacity to serve the rest of Africa.”
“She added that: “While large domestic market makes Nigeria the ideal gateway economy, Nigeria’s manufacturing value addition is more than seven times the average of the top 20 economies in Africa.”
“Speaking on the implication of AfCFTA to Nigeria’s financial sector, Dr. Hassan Mahmud, the Director of Monetary Policy Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said: “There are about 700 banks in Africa, however, they only account for about 5% of the global banking network. Continental integration in the banking system is key to strengthen the sector as a whole in Africa.”
“Speaking under his paper titled “Trade Facilitation and Transit,” Mr. Aliyu M. Abubakar, the Director of Trade at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said: “Transit is an important component of International Trade as it ensures smooth delivery of goods to landlocked countries and fosters Regional Integration therefore, efficient transit coordination among member countries will contribute tremendously to the success of regional arrangements of AfCFTA.”
“While advising the AfCFTA member countries to engage their Transit Coordinators for effective and efficient implementation of Transit regime, Abubakar added that “members are encouraged to ensure better cooperation and adherence to rules governing Transit.”
“Speaking on trade dispute resolution under his paper titled “Trade Remedy (Trade Protocols) / Dispute Resolution,” the Director General of the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan, remarked that an effective Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) is critical to ensuring predictability and security in a regional or continental trading arrangement, such as the AfCFTA.
“He also noted that the culture of non-utilization of formal dispute settlement systems in Africa and the existence of multi-dispute resolution systems could be sources of challenges for the AfCFTA DSM. He also acknowledged that Nigeria has a robust legal system and as such, exhausting local remedies should be the 1st option before engaging an international DSM.
“In his presentation on Trade Remedies, Mr. Tola Onayemi from the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations noted that before an application of a trade remedy policy tools can be investigated, there must be an existing legislation/Regulation and an Investigating Authority recognized by international organizations as the body responsible to investigate and recommend appropriate remedies for each unfair practice.
“Other dignitaries who spoke at the virtual seminar include: Mohammed Babajika, Director Licensing and Authorization of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Comptroller Swomen of the Nigerian Customs Service, Mr. Sidi-Aliyu Abdullahi, Director Export Trade at the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and Dr. Abimbola Adegboye, Deputy Director at the NAFDAC.”