By James Emejo
As the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) takes off on January 1, 2021, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo has called on Nigerians, particularly industrialists to take advantage of the inherent opportunities to promote Made-in-Nigeria goods.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, the minister said Nigeria cannot afford to be left out of the emerging African economic block, stressing that AfCTA will form a 3.4 trillion dollar economic bloc, which Nigeria must play a leading role.
The AfCFTA, the world’s largest free trade area in terms of 54 participating countries, will commence on January 1, 2021.
The commencement date will signal the beginning of the implementation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments across Africa.
According to the minister, “The journey started on July 7, 2019, when Nigeria became the 53rd African country to sign the AfCFTA treaty. Long before then, it has always been the dream of Nigeria and Africa’s founding fathers to unite the continent in one, shared prosperity.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, which Nigeria cannot afford to be left out of.
“We have worked tirelessly to ensure that Nigeria not only partakes as a signatory in name but become a major trade and economic powerhouse, even more than we have been within the ECOWAS region.”
Also speaking on readiness measures taken by the government towards the effective implementation of AfCFTA, the Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu said, “We are effectively coordinating with all critical stakeholders to ensure a smooth playing field for Nigerian traders and businessmen to explore the vast markets that will be opened up come January 1st, 2021.
“We are set to commence a major communication campaign and have tagged January 2021 as AfCFTA Awareness and Sensitisation month, which would take place across the six geopolitical zones, and would involve various stakeholder groups in public, private and civil society sectors, as well as other critical traditional institutions.”
Established on May 30, 2018, the agreement has been signed by 54 AU member countries and ratified by 31 AU member countries, including Nigeria in July 2019 and November 2020 respectively. AfCFTA is expected to help expand Nigeria’s inter-trade portfolio, boost competitiveness, and increase GDP.