James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enalemah, monday agitated for a flexible trade agreements to safeguard the Nigerian economy from floods of importation even as it remains an open economy.
Speaking at the on-going Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) negotiations at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he further called for CFTA which would be in favour of the African continent in general.
He said:”Trade agreements with binding obligations and economic consequences are not to be taken lightly. Trade liberalisation is good but complimentary policies are required. Negotiations must be based on negotiating mandates that reflect national economic priority.”
Meanwhile, the second meeting of African Union Trade Ministers will begin today and Enalemah is expected to make a strong case for Nigeria.
Already, the Nigerian government is providing strong proactive leadership for trade integration in Africa at the meeting.
The country’s negotiating team led by Enelamah is pushing for a CFTA that will support and promote structural reforms in Nigeria and across the continent rather than undermine it.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Strategic Communication, Ms Constance Ikowkwu, the minister urged the 54-member AU block to pay attention to the technical work that is required for the adoption of the CFTA by the AU Summit rather than focus solely on the expected date of adoption, which is December 2017.
Enelamah said the Nigerian delegation will continue to participate effectively in the entirety of the CFTA negotiating structures; engage in domestic consultations with the full range of stakeholders on the CFTA as well as ensure there is sound preparation of targeted negotiating objectives and positions, on the basis of a mandate, within the legal and policy framework of contemporary economic policy priorities.
There will also be an intensive and sustained capacity building for negotiating officials and MDAs involved in the CFTA, on the basis of a well-designed infrastructure for the conduct and management of trade policy and negotiations.