Buhari hopes intra-African trade will create jobs, prosperity for Nigerians
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has received the report assessing Nigeria’s readiness for the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), stating he would ensure the agreement, when signed, create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and innovators.
Buhari made this known while receiving the committee’s report on Thursday at the State House, Abuja.
Most of the other African countries have signed this intra-African trade, but Buhari had refused to sign for Nigeria’s participation for the establishment of AfCFTA. In fact, the Federal Executive Council gave Buhari the approval to join other African Countries to sign but Buhari withdrew from the meeting at Kigali, Rwanda where the agreement would be signed in March 2018.
Rather Buhari had set up a committee in October 2018 to give a report on the impact and readiness assessment of the agreement establishing the AfCFTA in Nigeria, stating he needs to ensure if it will benefit the country before he signs.
Receiving the report on Thursday, Buhari said the AfCFTA “will have both positive and negative effects on us as a nation and on our region”. He said the intra-African trade is only 14 per cent of Africa’s total trade while the region consumption is mostly of goods imported from Non-African countries.
For AfCFTA to succeed, Buhari said policies that promote African production must be developed.
“Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods’. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition,” Buhari said.
Buhari noted he would ensure that the agreements create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and negotiators.
He added that many of the challenges Africa countries face today “whether security, economic or corruption” are rooted in the region’s inability over the years to “domesticate the production of the most basic requirements and create jobs for our very vibrant, young and dynamic population”.
Thus, he noted his aspiration of the intra-African trade to be the creation of jobs and prosperity for “vibrant and hardworking” Nigerians.
“The benefits of economic growth must be prosperity for the masses,” he said.
Buhari, therefore, assured that the received report will form part of the consideration in his decision on the “next steps on the AfCFTA in particular and on broader trade integration subjects”.
AfCFTA is the first of its kind in Africa. It proposes creating a single market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments across 55 countries.