Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has inaugurated the National Committee for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations.
The membership of the committee is drawn from the organised private sectors, ministries departments and agencies (MDAs), the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Nigeria Customs Service, CBN and the civil society. It was launched at the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) office thursday by Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah.
The minister said the inauguration of the CFTA committee would reinforce the process for national economic recovery and development across all areas.
It is to advise government as the national multi-stakeholder technical platform on the CFTA negotiations on goods, services, investment, competition and intellectual property.
It will also monitor the negotiations and undertake analysis to ensure that the negotiations and emerging results approximate the goals for the negotiations established by government.
The committee is to also identify the opportunities and challenges facing the country in trade with other African countries, both intra and Inter-Regional Economic Communities (REC); and, participate in the negotiations, as appropriate.
The CFTA will lead to $6billion net gain for the benefiting countries, particularly Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.
The CFTA is part of Africa’s plan to industrialize the continent by 2063 and boost intra-Africa trade which currently stands at a lowly 19 percent.
The resolve to establish a continental free trade area was made by African leaders at the African Union (AU) Summit in 2012, where they also set a deadline of December 2017 for the adoption of CFTA.
Enelamah, who insisted that trade agreements must demonstrate win-win benefits, said because of Nigeria’s trade priorities and the size of its economy, it must play a leadership role in CFTA negotiations, in ways that shall yield growth and development dividends for its economy.
“Nigeria is the number one economy in Africa. We must work hard not only to sustain this continental position but to do better by increasing our ranking in the league of world’s top economies. To grow and modernize the Nigerian economy through African trade integration would require hardwork, determination and promotion of the famous entrepreneurial spirit for which Nigerians are renowned the world-over,” Enelamah said.
He stressed that since government launched the 60-day action plan on the presidential initiative on the ease of doing business, the country has recorded successes in digital economy and e-commerce.