President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the formation of a National Action Committee (NAC) saddled with the responsibility of implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement for Nigeria.
This came few weeks after the President signed the AfCFTA agreement in Niamey, Niger Republic. The pact was signed on July 7.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday, said the committee would include representatives of Ministries and Agencies, selected stakeholder groups from the private sector and civil society organizations to coordinate the implementation of the agreement.
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Further details: Shehu further disclosed that the committee would engage various stakeholders on the economy for sensitisation on the opportunities and challenges of the AfCFTA, with preparedness plans for the Nigerian economy.
“The National Action Committee (NAC) will upon inauguration, undertake a process of engagement with stakeholders to sensitize them on the opportunities and challenges of the AfCFTA, with preparedness plans for the Nigerian economy.
“Upon ratification, Nigeria will domesticate the Agreement by incorporating it into existing laws or enacting new laws, as appropriate. The engagement shall shortly start with the National Assembly,” the presidential spokesman said.
[READ MORE: How AfCFTA can affect Nigerian Business]
- Prior to the signing of the continental free trade pact, President Buhari had in October 2018 created the committee following the recommendations of a team on the Impact and Readiness Assessment of the Treaty.
- The committee submitted its report on June 27 this year.
- The sole function of the new committee is to domesticate the agreement by incorporating the treaty into existing laws or issue new decrees as appropriate.
Shehu added: “The work of the AfCFTA Presidential Committee was preceded by a nationwide sensitisation process directed by the President. The report and consultative process raised the bar in the engagement of government with stakeholders and set a standard for building support for strategic areas of public policy with clarity on concrete parameters for implementation action.”
According to him, the AfCFTA Agreement has two phases of negotiations.
“The Phase I negotiations culminated in the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA, the Protocol on Trade in Goods, Protocol on Trade in Services, and the Protocol on the Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes. These were adopted by the African Union Heads of States in Kigali on 21st March 2018.
“The Phase II negotiations are expected to commence in January 2020 and will cover competition, investment and intellectual property rights,” he stated.
Shehu disclosed that the recommendations as approved by President Buhari include signature and ratification of the AfCFTA agreement which include:
“Engaging in the ongoing negotiations of the annexures of the Agreement to incorporate safeguards for the economy, such as a longer period to achieve AfCFTA’s trade liberalisation ambition, common exclusive and sensitive lists for ECOWAS”
“Import quotas for exclusive and sensitive products, security and customs cooperation and other measures to tackle smuggling, non-tariff barriers to trade and predatory trade practices, establishing and championing programmes at AU/AfCFTA to resolve the critical continental level challenges to the success of the AfCFTA including smuggling, abuse of rules of origin, low production and service capacities, poor infrastructure and revenue loss.”