Nigeria’s President Buhari finally received the much-anticipated report on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement from the constituted Presidential Committee.

The president confirmed this on Thursday evening in a rather cryptic tweet sending analysts into a state of flux.

The 44-man steering Committee Chaired by Desmond Obadiah submitted the report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The committee’s Position: The committee presented the report with a recommendation for Nigeria to sign AfCFTA. While delivering the report to the President, the committee’s Chairman was affirmative of the summary of its recommendation, disclosing that Nigeria should sign the trade treaty.

“Over 200 submissions were received, Nigeria should consider joining the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement”

While the committee recommended that Nigeria should sign the treaty, the President appeared to have sent a cryptic message to Nigerians.

Buhari
42 Man Committee with the President in Abuja on Thursday

President Buhari on AfCFTA: While receiving the committee’s report, the President stated that AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on Nigeria as a Nation but expressed deep caution for an umpteenth time on the trade treaty. According to President Buhari,

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“Trade is important for us as a nation. Economic progress is what makes the world go around. Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.”

“The AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on us as a nation and on our region. As Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, we cannot afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders.”

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“Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods”. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.”

The President’s tweet did not state clearly if he will approve the recommendations or if he still has reservations. It also appears that he was calling for a “continental manufacturing agenda” in addition to the trade policy.

“Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods”. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.”

“Henceforth, we shall ensure that our negotiated agreements create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and innovators.”
“The AfCFTA we aspire to have should therefore not only create wealth for investors but also jobs and prosperity for our vibrant and hardworking citizens. The benefits of economic growth must be prosperity for the masses.”

“I assure that this report will form part of the consideration in our decision on the next steps on the AfCFTA in particular and on broader trade integration subjects.”

Will Nigeria sign the treaty? Nigerians will have to wait for the President’s next move, which falls between either accepting recommendation to sign the trade treaty or not. Recall that the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria recently engaged in a tete-a-tete with the President on the need to renege on signing the regional treaty.

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