Nigerian traders seek National Assembly’s ratification of AfCFTA agreement

The ongoing house of reps voting to elect new speaker
The ongoing house of reps voting to elect new speaker

The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has advised the National Assembly to urgently ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to ensure its speedy implementation.

Ken Ukaoha, the NANTS president, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said that its ratification would enable Nigeria to quickly join the nations that would benefit from the agreement.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 7, at the 12th African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic, signed the agreement establishing AfCFTA.

Mr Ukaoha, a lawyer, said the parliament had a major role to play in terms of ratifying the AfCFTA agreement, adding that after signing such an agreement, its endorsement should follow suit.

“And of course we know that courtesy of Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, no international agreement or treaty can come into force except it is ratified by the National Assembly.

“So the National Assembly should also be seriously and urgently doing so in recourse to provisions of Section 19 of the Constitution which is part of the fundamental objectives of the government.

“One is that our foreign policy objective is in tandem with the AfCFTA, therefore the National Assembly should look at AfCFTA from that angle and ratify it because the implementation is knocking at the door,’’ Mr Ukaoha said.

According to him, there is no need of wasting time in the process, the private sector has decided to move along and so the National Assembly should rise up and do their bidding.

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Speaking about its implementation, he explained that the reports of the Presidential Committee on AfCFTA had already shown what Nigeria should do as a country to effectively implement the agreement for the benefit of the people.

“It is one thing to sign an agreement and another thing to implement such agreement, there are things we need to do as a country for us to be part of the benefits.’’

He further said that the Federal Government should look into the funding of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for effective implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The MSMEs is the fulcrum of every economy and therefore if we do not fund this, we will remain where we are.

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“Secondly, the president should call the private sector to a meeting to strategise on the way forward to implement this agreement because there is no country among the 54 countries in Africa you will not find Nigerian traders.

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“If they are found there, located in such countries, then for this particular instruments to realistically benefit Nigeria in terms of implementation it means that these traders in such countries should become trade ambassadors to the country,’’ he said.

The NANTS boss also said that Nigeria’s export orientation strategy must change, adding that the country should no longer be limited to trade missions and trade fares.

According to him, we should rather be identifying required products in specific countries that can compete so that the organised private sector can strategically begin to invest in the development and progressive growth of such product.

The AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments.

It covers Protocol on Trade in Goods and Services, Competition Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights.

NAN reports that Buhari recently approved the establishment of National Action Committee (NAC) for implementation of the AfCFTA agreement. (NAN)

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