FEC panel to review Africa Free Trade Agreement

FEC panel to review Africa Free Trade Agreement

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22.03.2018 - Kigali / The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday raised a committee to review within two weeks, the content of the proposal for the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and report back to the Federal Executive Council.

 Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina listed the committee members from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies as: Finance, Budget and National Planning,  Labour, Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology, FIRS, CBN, Customs and Immigration.According to him the committee will "look into the proposals that are contained in the CFTA and they will brief the FEC within two weeks and a way forward will then be unfolded.’’

 He said that the explanation was necessary because the agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday but the President did not attend the AU summit.

 Adesina said that the explanation by President Buhari to FEC which the council bought was that he would not want to agree to anything that would hinder local entrepreneurs as on the surface the agreement had the capacity to do so.

 He added that the President said he would not want to sign an agreement that could encourage the dumping of finished goods in Nigeria as it would be contrary to the country’s interest.

 Also Buhari stated that the country had yet to understand the full economic and security implications of the agreement and that more consultations with stakeholders were necessary.

 Adesina said some of the African countries could have signed treaties with other nations which, by the CFTA, would warrant their pumping products not needed in the country from other nations.

 Yesterday in Kigali, 44 countries signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The signing took place during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) on the AfCFTA.

 Chairperson of AU Commission Moussa Mahamat was handed over the legal instruments. After the signing, the agreement will be submitted for ratification by state parties of the agreement in accordance with their domestic laws.

 Experts said African regional integration will help enhance economic development.

 This will be achieved through the lowest transaction costs for business, lower risks associated with investments, expansion of markets, better utilisation of economies of scale in production and more efficientallocation of resources, said Ismael Buchanan, Dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the University of Rwanda.Former President Olusegun Obasanjo stressed the importance of intra-African trade for Africa’s economic development.

 Obasanjo who spoke yesterday at the AfCFTA Business Forum said African countries must unite and trade with each other.

 "I am surprised that any African leader at this time would be doubting or debating the benefits of what is going to be signed here and fail to show up,” he said.The AfCFTA is aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of businesses and investments.

 According to the AU, the AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.It could create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars, the pan-African bloc said.

 The AfCFTA will progressively eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, making it easier for African businesses to trade within the continent and cater to and benefit from the growing African market, said the AU.

 The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 53.2 per cent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.


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