Olusegun Aganga, Trade and Investment Minister
By Yemi Akinsuyi
As part of efforts to boost regional integration and increase Intra-African Trade, Nigeria will remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade within the continent, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, has said.
He spoke during the African Industrialisation Day (AID), in Abuja, on the theme of this year’s AID commemoration is ‘Accelerating Industrialisation for boosting Intra African trade’.
The African Industrialisation Day is a special day set aside by the Conference of African Ministers of Industry (CAMI) under the aegis of the African Union Commission (AUC), to focus on specific strategies of African countries to stimulate industrial development and draw attention to the progress and challenges of relevant stakeholders on the policy direction of government towards a sustainable industrial sector development.
Aganga, who was represented by the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, noted that effective regional integration in Africa would enhance trade within the continent and also attract investment into the manufacturing sector.
He said: “Africa is indeed endowed with a wealth of natural and mineral resources which if properly harnessed, would serve as an engine of economic growth and prosperity on the continent. It is however unfortunate that Africa has been very successful in integrating itself with the rest of the world, but has not been successful in integrating countries in the continent.
“Effective regional integration in Africa would not only enhance trade within Africa but would also attract investment into the manufacturing sector. Nigeria aims at expanding Intra-African trade by breaking down tariff and non-tariff barriers and enhancing mutually advantageous commercial relations through trade liberalisation schemes.
“Regional integration helps in developing larger markets, fostering greater competition and improving policy stance in many areas of the development agenda. In addition, pooling economies and market together through regional integration provide a sufficiently wide economised market space to make economies of scale possible.,” he added.
The Minister said his ministry had commenced the implementation of trade facilitation programmes and policies to ensure accelerated industrialisation and enhance free movement of goods within the continent.
He said: “Nigeria urgently needs to overcome the challenges of trade, mainly the free movement of goods and services to ensure accelerated industrialisation and facilitate growth within the region. To this end, we have already commenced several trade facilitation initiatives. My Ministry is at an advanced stage, working with NEXIM bank, on the proposed sea link coaster ferry services along the West African coast to reduce the same journey to less than one week. In addition, we are focusing on formalising informal trades along the borders.
He added: “Historically, no nation has moved from a poor to a rich nation by relying mainly on exporting raw materials without having a vibrant manufacturing sector and a robust services sector developed on the wheels of industrial growth. Nigeria is not only endowed with enormous human and material resources, but is also currently the fastest growing economy in Africa.”
In a joint message by the African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, they stressed the need for the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017, in order to boost trade among African countries.
The message, read by UNIDO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Patrick Kormawa, stated, “We support the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017, as a first and ambitious target towards setting up an African market, which can help improve economic performance in business opportunities and Foreign Direct Investment”.