By Merit Ibe
Secretary General, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene, has described the AfCFTA as a driver for Africa’s recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the trade would steer recovery from impacts of the pandemic on the continent’s industralisation growth and development agenda.
Mene, who made the assertion at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) noted that the continent’s ability to trade in merchandise and services inclusive of the airlines industry, tourism and other components was critical to its recovery.
Before the onset of the pandemic, Mene said Africa was a significant market with a growth rate of 3.4 per cent annually, and hosting six out of 10 fastest growing economies of the world.
“With COVID-19, we went from that to a contraction of a magnitude that we have not had in about 30 years.
“But with the objectives of the AfCFTA, by 2035, by dabbling into Africa trade, Africa is on the path to industrial development and we are building a capacity to diversify our exports within and outside the continent,” he said.
According to him, the projection of International Monetary Fund is that by 2022, there will be some positive growth trajectory of 2.1 per cent for Sub-Saharan Africa if we roll out vaccines on time and implement the AfCFTA.
Noting that the AfCFTA, therefore, is the driver for Africa’s recovery with all the components critical to this happening, the AfCFTA secretary general also addressed obvious challenges with rules of origin under the agreement. Mene said the agreement had rules that catered to discipline, dumping of products, subsidised products and preferential safeguards amongst others.
Mene lauded the efforts of the Nigerian government at establishing its trade remedy authorities to address investigation, issues of origin and punitive measures where necessary.
“At the moment, only two countries – Egypt and South Africa – have their trade remedy authorities ready, and this has the ability to prevent dumping and address many other challenges associated with inter-African trade. “Nigeria is at the advance stage of establishing a trade recovery remedy authority and this is a very positive step,” he said.