Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged African Heads of States and stakeholders to relax the whole processes for the take -off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and move to a future date, the August to September 2018 deadlines for tariff concessions, services offer and further negotiations on the protocols on investment, intellectual property and competition policy.
It added that there should be a pause in the pace of the AfCFTA agenda for stock-taking noting that the ambitious pace set by Heads of State and Government in 2012 to achieve AfCFTA by the indicative date of 2017 has already produced a number of hasty and inconsistent decisions.
In a press conference held in Lagos on Tuesday, MAN President, Frank Jacobs, said it is important that before the next stages of the finalisation of the protocols, the trade policy measures in Africa at national, regional and continental levels should be assessed.
According to MAN, this will ensure that the emergent AfCFTA would be properly aligned with Africaâ€™s structural economic transformation.
It also urged Nigeria to take the lead in ensuring that its recommendations are met and implemented.
The statement reads in parts: â€œIt is evident that Nigeria is not alone in the call for circumspection and consideration for due diligence before signing-on to the AfCFTA. Nigeria should lead the process of ensuring that the above recommendations are implemented. Nigeria should further demonstrate leadership in the continent by ensuring that those relating to the sub-region and the continent and equally elevated to the level of the African Union for necessary implementation
â€œ AfCFTA is a good project that will benefit Nigeria if properly negotiated; as it would expand market access for export of Nigerian products and improve the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector.
â€œHowever, the starting point of an effective AfCTFA negotiation is the recommended studies, robust consultations and proper representation of manufacturing and the private sectors at all National and Continental AfCFTA negotiation meetings. This we believe would equip members of the Nigerian negotiating team with requisite data for the negotiations ahead.â€
An enhanced role for the Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) in further negotiations of the protocols on Goods and Services as well as the proposed negotiations on other issues should be pursued. Additionally, national level consultations should be better structured and further strengthen for more effective input into role of the RECs;
Part of the suggestions and recommendations made earlier includes; the proper sequencing of the decisions on tariff concessions, and in particular the implementation, with national and regional policies and strategies so as to enable optimum benefits to African Countries and the citizens that drive the economies;
â€œAn audit of the policies in place, especially in the area of services as well as the profile of service providers, national and foreign, African and non-African.â€