By Bimbola Oyesola and Charles Nwaoguji
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) yesterday, restated its opposition against Federal Government’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) until wider and consultations among stakeholders have been concluded.It said a proper assessment of its impact on the economy and the manufacturing sector was also imperative.
MAN President, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, while addressing the media at the 2019 MAN Annual Media Luncheon in Lagos, Wednesday, said the Association has reaffirmed the need for government to do proper assessment of the impact to ascertain how beneficial AfCFTA would be to Nigeria and provide necessary adjustment costs as well as competitiveness enhancing infrastructures before deciding whether to sign or not.
He however, said the presidential committee inaugurated to assess the the Continental Free Trade Agreement will submit its report in February.
Ahmed stated that MAN’s advocacy on AfCFTA was yielding the desired results, stating that, “Nigeria is yet to sign the Framework Agreement. Government has conducted sensitisation programmes nationwide and President Muhammadu Buhari, has set up a Presidential Committee on Impact and Readiness of Nigeria for AfCTA. MAN is a functional member of this committee that is billed to submit its report to President Buhari early February 2019.”
The MAN President noted that the Association is a proactive organisation that strongly believes in evidence-based advocacy and as a result commissioned a sector-specific study on AfCFTA.
“We have shared the study, full report and fact sheets on the highlights of findings with the Presidential Committee on AfCFTA. We are confident that the eventual position of Nigeria on the AfCFTA Framework Agreement would be well articulated in a fresh National Negotiation Mandate that is in the best interest of the manufacturing sector and indeed the Nigerian economy while paying utmost attention to emerging issues on AfCFTA and ensure that the industrial aspiration of the country is not compromised on the platter of free trade,’’ he added.
He said the socio-economic, political and manufacturing operating environment-related challenges ahead appear enormous, noting, however, that MAN is well equipped to effectively respond with appropriate advocacy and strategically position for beneficial partnership with all tiers of government including Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) required to promote friendlier operating environment in 2019 and beyond.
While emphasising on areas the association will be giving greater attention to in 2019, Mansur explained that MAN will substantially improve the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current paltry 9.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent.
He also said that MAN will appreciably increase the capacity utilisation of member-companies by promoting policy consistency in a manner that the gains already made are not pulled back, while ensuring the revival of sectors that are currently struggling; promoting a more inclusive economy among all categories of companies in the membership of MAN through the establishment of structured and mutually beneficial linkages between the large corporations group and small and medium industries.
The MAN President further said the association will expand the scope of strategic partnership with relevant organisations within Nigeria, West Africa, Africa and outside the African continent; strategically position the association to play the leading role in the emerging integration aspiration of the West African region and the African continent.