AfCFTA: OPS Mulls Measures to Overcome Constraints

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Chris Uba

Members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have stated that a lot still needs to be done to enable Nigerian manufacturers to maximise the benefits offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

The OPS clarified that Nigeria lacked the capacity to compete with small African countries that serve as out post for highly industrialised economies to penetrate and subjugate the Nigeria economy in spite of its status as the biggest economy in Africa.
They enjoined the Nigeria’s government to ensure that goods coming into the country from neighbouring countries in the name of AfCFTA are truly made in Africa.

Laying the groundwork yesterday for the discussion meant to prepare the Nigerian private sector to grasp the proper understanding of the details of the AfCFTA’s agreement, such as the Rules of origin, protocol of trade in goods and services, dispute resolution etc., at the AfCFTA Dialogue Series organized by the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in collaboration with Deloitte, the Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, who delivered a keynote address urged members of OPS to make their businesses competitive enough in order to benefit from the opportunities will derive from AFCFTA.

Ajayi-Kadiri, who was represented by his Director of Economic and Statistics, Mr. Oluwasegun Osidipe, said the Nigerian private sector must be very proactive and sensitive to opportunities because “AfCFTA is about economic integration, an arrangement among nations that typically includes the reduction or elimination of trade barriers and the coordination of monetary and fiscal policies as well as aims to reduce costs for both consumers and producers and increase trade between the countries involved in the agreement.”

He pointed out that “the biggest and obvious constraint to Nigeria’s gainful participation in AfCFTA would be the uncompetitive stance of the economy, which he identified as low capacity utilization, unsold inventory of manufactured goods, weak infrastructure including land transportation and rail as well as shipping problems and access to markets among high cost of inputs.”

Ajayi-Akadiri, said the OPS should participate effectively in the activities of the implementation committee on AfCFTA and “encourage member companies to fully deploy the tenets of competitive advantage strategy to upscale, own their chain, improve capabilities and reduce production cost to accelerate export diversification and facilitate, capacity building in the understanding of origin and the trade remedy, mechanisms.”

He advocated that government should improve the country’s infrastructure like road transport, rails, communications and trade facilitation infrastructure.

Prof.JonathanAremu of Covenant University identified four phases of Economic Integration as free trade area, customs union, common market and economic union.

Aremu said that any member state that desired to fully utilize the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA must develop an AfCFTA strategy that identifies the key trade opportunities, current constraints and steps required to take full advantage of the African market.

Earlier in her opening remarks, President of NACCIMA, Hajia Saratu Iya Aliyu, noted that the discussions focused on the negotiated terms in the trade in goods protocol and how “they affect the real sector of our economy with a view to clearing the misconceptions surrounding the AfCFTA.”