MAN: Why Nigeria must approach African free trade agreement with caution

Doug Mendoza
March 21, 2018

"The Agreement will be a historic pact, which has been almost 40 years in the making and represents a major advance for African integration and unity".

This comes a day after Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari also opted out of the Kigali conference, saying he wanted further domestic consultation on the continental deal that would remove trade barriers and eventually allow free movement.

The success of the AfCFTA will depend on closer collaboration between policy makers and the private sector, according to Kagame.

The AfCFTA will be the second flagship project signed this year after the Single Air Transport Market, and forms part of the body's larger continental economic integration plan enshrined in the AU's developmental Agenda 2063.

A statement signed by the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tope Adeleye Elias-Fatile announcing the cancellation on Sunday read, "President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, to attend an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on tomorrow, to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area".

The framework agreement involves the adoption of common currency and free trade among others within the African Continent.

Intra-Africa trade stands at about 16 percent compared with 19 percent intra-regional trade in Latin America, 51 percent in Asia, 54 percent in North America and 70 percent in Europe.

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Addis Ababa African leaders' hopes of establishing the world's largest free trade area have been hit by the withdrawal of Nigeria from the launch.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the South African delegation to an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) in Rwanda on Wednesday.

He said the agreement will be a historic pact, which has been almost 40 years in the making, and represents a major advance for African integration and unity.

Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), pointed out that in today's world, there is a rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalisation and that Africa should be prepared to face these challenges with one voice and one stand.

"AfCFTA will make Africa one of the largest economies in the world and enhance its capacity to interact on equal terms with other global economic blocs", commented AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The UN's Economic Commission for Africa reckons that eliminating import duties alone could see AfCFTA boosting intra-continental trade by 52.3%.

Other reports by GizPress

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