The President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Oramah, has advised the Federal Government of Nigeria to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The advice comes in spite of growing concerns among Nigerian manufacturers, over the actual possibility of them exporting their products to other African countries if Nigeria signs the treaty.
Oramah gave the suggestion during his speech at the 2019 edition of the annual Bullion Lecture organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism (CFJ Nigeria). He was speaking on the topic “Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to Boost Nigeria’s Economic Development.”
Why Oramah wants Nigeria to sign the AfCFTA: Oramah said it’s surprising that Nigeria, who hosted the first treaty that prompted the AfCFTA initiative, is yet to sign the deal.
Nigeria had hosted the Abuja Treaty of 1991 which was aimed at defining clear plans for Africa’s economic integration.
According to Oramah, Nigeria should endorse the initiative in order to maximise its economic potentials. He said the AfCFTA has renewed the hope of Africa in its potentials and is ready to change the narrative about Africa.
“The AfCFTA, which was signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018, was in line with the Abuja Treaty expectations. So … the child that was conceived in Nigeria was born in Rwanda. And with the emergence of that child, Africa sees a renewed hope, a reinvigoration to chart a new course.
“the AfCFTA offers opportunity for African countries to begin to create and nurture infant industries.
“The AfCFTA creates opportunities for African economies, including Nigeria, to take over from China as the World’s manufacturing hub.
“China exports $45 billion of light manufacturers into Africa. Nigeria and other African countries can expect to fill that void if they take advantage of the tariff and non-tariff reductions in the AfCFTA.” -Oramah
In addition, Oramah said the AfCFTA will increase Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows due to Nigeria’s position as the largest economy and the most populous nation in Africa.
The concern delaying Nigeria’s signature on AfCFTA
The Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, recently disclosed the possible reason why Nigeria is stalling to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
While Rabiu believes immense opportunities await Nigeria if the Government agrees to the trade agreement, he said there are various factors that need to be considered and resolved before such agreement is signed.
In his assertion, some African countries have failed to keep to previous trade treaty, rejecting Nigerian made goods. He mentioned countries like Burkina Faso and Benin Republic, who prefer to import from China, Turkey and many other countries than patronising Nigerian manufacturers in certain businesses.