The African Development Bank (AfDB) is confident that the continent’s largest country, Nigeria, will soon sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
Speaking with newsmen on Sunday, the AfDB’s Director of Industrial and Trade Development, Dr. Abdu Mukthar, said that for the agreement to be really worthwhile, Africa’s largest country has to be part of it. He, however, stressed that he thinks the Nigerian Government is finalising discussions with key relevant stakeholders.
“I understand the Nigeria government has been making consultations with the private sector, manufacturers association and so on. I have been talking to some of these people in Nigeria and I think the reason why they have been skeptical is that they don’t understand what is in it for them. So, what we could also do as a bank to provide that support to the Nigerian private sector is to organise a session for them.”
Boosting Rate of Trade: He further stressed that the bank was executing lot of projects in Nigeria, saying that Nigeria is an important member of the bank. He urged Nigerian entrepreneurs and business owners on the continent to seize the opportunities and advantages from the bank, to ensure that they trade within Africa and also meet up with the Europeans and Latin Americans by increasing our rate of trade.
According to Mukhtar;
“Nigeria should see it as their own bank, come to us whenever they have good projects that they want financing, especially on the private sector side.
“People think the AFDB only work with government but the key message I will like you to pass on is that we do a lot of private sector business as well and we will like to work more with the private sector business and support their expansion.”
Aim of the ACFTA: The free trade agreement, which was adopted on March 21, 2018, seeks to create a single market for goods and services as well as enable the movement of persons with the aim of deepening economic integration on the continent. Presently, only 22 countries (excluding Nigeria) have signed to the agreement.
Free trade agreements are aimed at bringing down trading barriers, specifically tariffs and import quotas, thus, encouraging free movement of goods and services among member countries.
Bottom line: Analysts are of the opinion that should Nigeria sign this agreement, it will lead to the influx of foreign goods and services in the country, thus making Nigeria a dumping ground. They also believe that a potential signing of the deal would promote economic and trade integration across the continent.