Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The North-east stakeholders forum has supported the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) while also making a key demand on the federal government to extend the coverage of the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to the geo-political zone.
They also resolved at the AfCFTA sensitisation forum held in Maiduguri on Tuesday that the establishment of a continental free trade area was a necessary step in the 21st century global economy.
Nigerian Office Trade Negotiations (NOTN) has been consulting stakeholders nationwide on the benefits of the agreement to remove tariffs and promote intra- African trade and cooperation, since government declined to ratify the comprehensive pact in Kigali on March 21.
National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Manufacturers Association Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Nigerian Trade Experts Forum (NTEF) and the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) were some of the stakeholders represented at the event.
The Market Associations of the Northeast geo-political zone, made the request for the CBN borrowers’ scheme, demanding the government to fund the completion of the mapping of MSMEs in the zone, in addition to funds for micro-credit and trade finance and restore historic intra-African trade corridors linking the zone with Central Africa, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Bornu State Governor Kashim Shettima gave full and undivided support to AfCFTA, which he said was designed to expand intra-African trade.
He said cross border trade between the zone and the neighbouring countries had overtime led to economic growth, job creation and the overall prosperity of the zone.
The forum reiterated the urgency, as identified in the presentations on the industrialisation programme and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERPG), where action is required, on an immediate and permanent basis to support Nigerian manufacturers and service providers.
The presentation on trade, covered protocols, resulting from Stage 1 of the negotiations for Trade in Goods and Services, including protocol on the rules and procedures on the settlement of disputes.
The presentation also reviewed the built-in legal provisions in the agreement for appropriate safeguards for strategic areas of the Nigerian economy for reasons of industrial policy, national security, food security, job creation and, countervailing unfair and injurious economic activities against the Nigerian economy, including trans-shipment and dumping in the Nigerian market, smuggling and piracy, all of which undermined attempts at industrialising the Nigerian economy.