The Federal Government has begun a campaign to sensitise Nigerians on the implications and opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative of the African Union (AU).
The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) in a statement on Wednesday said it kicked off the country-wide campaign in Kano State for the North-West zone, in compliance with the directive by President Mohammadu Buhari to deepen understanding of AfCFTA among Nigerians.
The 18th Ordinary Session of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union (AU) in 2012 had agreed to establish the AfCFTA.
On March 21 this year in Kigali, Rwanda, a summit attended by 44 African leaders finally adopted and signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.
Nigeria, however, was one of the countries that did not attend the summit to sign the agreement as President Buhari said government would further consult with stakeholders before taking a final decision on the continental trade pact.
The decision of Mr Buhari to shun the summit in Rwanda elicited criticism from a section of Nigerians, including former president Olusegun Obasanjo who described it as a missed opportunity to assert the country’s leadership role in the continent.
In its statement on Wednesday on the impact of the AfCFTA, NOTN said “upon entry into force, with the deposit of 22 instruments of ratification, the AfCFTA shall be the largest Free Trade Area (FTA) in the global economy.
“This will boost job creation through increased intra-African Trade and expand market access for Nigeria’s exporters of goods and services, covering a market of over a billion Africans with a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion”.
The Chief Negotiator at NOTN, Chiedu Osakwe, at the sensitisation programme in Kano said “In implementing the directive of President Buhari to sensitive and consult nation-wide, we shall make the AfCFTA count in the range of efforts underway to trigger a catapult effect for Nigeria’s growth and job creation.
“Today, Kano, for the Northwest, caused a first class lift off,” Mr Osakwe said.
Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, who was represented at the event by the state Secretary to the State Government, Usman Usman, said the state was willing to take specific steps to reactivate and update historic trade corridors with the objective of boosting Nigerian exports and intra-African trade.
He also urged participants to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area for the economic growth of their respective states, Nigeria and Africa in general.
According to NOTN, when the AfCFTA is fully implemented, Nigeria stands to benefit from “rules-based trade governance in intra-African trade to ensure fair trade and legal right to use trade remedies to safeguard the Nigerian economy from dumping and injurious trade practices.
“As estimated by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), AfCFTA will expand the size of Africa’s economy to US$29 trillion by 2050. Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa stands to benefit tremendously from this,” it said.
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