Anatogu: Nigeria Set to Begin Trade Under AfCFTA

Gilbert Ekugbe

The Secretary, National Action Committee on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Mr. Francis Anatogu, yesterday, announced that all was set for Nigeria to begin trading activities under the AfCFTA.

Anatogu stated this at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (LCCI’s) Export Group Symposium in Lagos.

There had been concerns that since one year after the implementation of the trade pact which came into force on January 1 last year, Nigeria was yet to make the trade agreement operational due to structural challenges, the Covid-19 and lack of consensus on trade protocols

The Secretary said Nigeria must pay attention to trade facilitation, policies, infrastructure, trade information, free movement of people and goods, finance and institutional coordination between the federal government and private sector.

“What we are focusing in 2022 is understanding where the opportunities are and we have already identified areas that are priorities for AfCFTA in terms of products and services.

“We have also been able to dimension them into arrowheads to help us focus on the short term and frontiers that we can focus on the medium to long term,” he explained.

He, however stressed the need to grow the volume of transactions within the country while also supporting and encouraging businesses to take advantage of the African markets.

Anatogu added: “At the National Action Committee, our mission and vision for the AfCFTA is to take 10 per cent of Africa’s import from the world to provide the products and services from Nigeria that are currently being supplied by other countries outside Africa, but we know that for us to achieve that, we need to focus on developing value chain in products and services.”

He said according to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the country’s exports have grown in the past one year, advising that the next step for Nigeria was to boost its manufacturing presence in the continent.

He noted that so far, seven countries have started piloting trade with AfCFTA, saying Nigeria was on the verge to joining.

According to him, one of the key elements the country had been trying to put in place was the preferential trade process to be able to trade under AfCFTA.

“The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has developed this procedure and is being reviewed with the stakeholders with a view to adopting it and pubksihing it for businesses to start to use,” he added.

Earlier, the president, LCCI, Mr. Michael Olawale-Cole, described the AfCFTA launched in 2021 as a flagship project of the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063, a blueprint for attaining inclusive and sustainable development across the continent over the next 50 years.

He said it aims to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.

He highlighted that the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) as a centralised payment and settlement infrastructure for intra-African trade and commerce payments, stressing that the initiative which was developed in collaboration with the African Export-Import Bank, (AFREXIM) Bank would facilitate payments as well as formalise some of the unrecorded trade due to prevalence of informal cross-border trade in Africa.

“We could generate more foreign exchange earnings if these primary products are processed into finished goods for the international markets.

“The potential of non-oil exports are largely untapped due to over dependence on crude oil exports,” he averred.

On her part, Chairperson, LCCI, Export Group, Mrs. Bosun Solarin, said the actualisation of the benefits of AfCFTA remains elusive and unachievable without effective distribution channel in which logistics play an indispensable role of bridging the gap between the dreams and realities of AfCFTA.

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