Domesticate AfCFTA to Boost Commerce, Halt Naira Fall, NILDS DG Urges FG

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, has urged the federal government to domesticate and leverage on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) policy to address the current economic challenges.

Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning made the call at the opening of a workshop organised by NILDS in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre in Abuja, yesterday.

Sulaiman said that various governments had talked about economic diversification, alternative to the major sources of income, agrarian revolution, green revolution but not much was achieved.

He explained, “Today the country is not at a crossroads, we have gone beyond the crossroads; when you look at the foreign exchange earnings, forex, the dwindling fortune of the naira and unemployment across the globe especially as it related to Nigeria.

“It is now time for us to put up our thinking cap; how do we harness resources and our markets, how do we ensure domestication of AfCFTA and take advantage as done by other countries.

“How do we take advantage of the market hub, the free trade liberal policies as enshrined in the various protocols; it is the right time for us to think and to act.

“The leadership of the National Assembly is ready to support, they are ready to do the needful in terms of legislation, oversight, presentations and domestication of the various conventions.

“The National Assembly cannot do it alone, they will need the support of the State Assemblies and critical stakeholders,” he said.

There have been concerns and debates in Nigeria around the issue of domestication of the AfCFTA.

The process of domestication involves the enactment of the AfCFTA agreement as a domestic or national legislation by the National Assembly of Nigeria.

Proponents of domestication of the AfCFTA Agreement argue that non-domestication will impede Nigeria’s ability to take benefit of or implement the AfCFTA.

This argument is hinged on the Nigerian jurisprudence derived from the constitutional provision requiring international treaties to be enacted into law if it is to have the force of law in Nigeria as provided in  Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution.

Presenting research findings on AfCFTA, a Senior Researcher at NILDS, Dr. Okuwasola Omoju, said AfCFTA had the potential of boosting intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022, when compared with the trade levels in 2010.

He said it would also create an annual welfare gain of $16.1 billion for the continent in the long term.

According to him, it was expected to raise income by almost $450 billion, representing seven per cent and reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty by about 40 million people, representing 12.6 per cent by 2035.

The researcher said intra-African trade could promote regional industrialisation and structural transformation.

“Average of 75 per cent of Africa’s exports to the rest of the world during 2007-2017 are basically unprocessed primary commodities like solid minerals and only about 40 per cent was intra Africa,” he said.

Also, the Director General of Association of Nigerian Exporters, Mr. Joseph Idiong, said some African countries were already taking advantage of the free trade area.

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