President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will significantly increase the exports of Nigeria to other countries in Africa by 15 per cent.
President Buhari said this at the ongoing 9th edition of the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) meeting in Lagos and tagged, ‘African Continental Free Trade Agreement: A veritable platform for African Shippers to mainstream into global trade’.
President Buhari was represented by Prince Ademola Adegoroye, the Minister of State for Transportation, who stated on behalf of the president that for AfCFTA to have a positive influence on long term investment in productive capacities, African government must develop appropriate supporting policies, build requisite infrastructure and ensure an educated work force.
According to President buhari, “Specifically, Nigeria’s exports to the rest of African would increase by more than 15% in fishery, textile, wearing apparel, leather, wood and papers, metals, electronics, vehicles and transport equipment and machinery (for industrial sectors) and in meat and poultry, milk and dairy m.
“Others are, rice, other cereals, plant-based fibers and other crops, fruit, vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils, other food products, beverages and tobacco as well as livestock (for agriculture and food sectors).
“Following the AfCFTA reform, Nigeria’s exports would increase significantly to other African sub-regions, outside West Africa, with most impressive expansions to countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Also, due to her sheer economic size, Nigeria, among African nations is expected to experience the largest absolute expansion in intra – African exports.”
President Buhari also took the opportunity to advise African countries to make AfCFTA a reality by creating national institutions to implement the agreement, thie said.
“It is an obvious fact that making AfCFTA a reality will require creating national institutions for implementing the Agreement, in addition to institutional coordination mechanisms for execution between public sector, private sector and donors. That is why the Nigerian Government have intensified efforts aimed at identifying new opportunities for diversification and value chain development under the AfCFTA, and complementary actions considered necessary to overcome the existing constraints to intra African trade.
“This we will achieve through cross sectoral approach, considering not just trade, but also closely related areas such as agriculture, industry, macroeconomic management and infrastructure development.”
In his welcome speech, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime, said African leaders must embrace tariff liberalisation for intra-African trade in order to thrive.
According to Jime, there is need to employ adequate measures so as to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers that drag or adversely imit the intra-african trade.
He said that there is a need to create smooth integration of transport infrastructures and trade policies in the sub-region for trade to thrive.
Managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, pointed out that automation has remained the tool to port efficiency.
“The NPA is working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to deploy Port Community System in Nigerian Ports to bring all stakeholders under one platform for ease of doing business,” the NPA MD stated.