Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, has called on his counterparts across the continent to speedily establish a single, unified market in Africa to increase trade, create more jobs and reduce poverty.
Buhari made the call while presenting Nigeria’s position in favour of the report on the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and related issues during the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari in his reaction to be presented by President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, during the meeting said, “it is Nigeria’s position that as African leaders and principal architects of our Union, we must now speed up action to conclude the negotiations and establish the CFTA.”
Noting that the continent has missed the timeline set by the African Union (AU) in January 2012 to establish the CFTA in 2017, he said African leaders still had the opportunity to set it up by March 2018.
Justifying Nigeria’s vote for the CFTA, the President said: “In a rapidly changing global economy, with much uncertainty, we believe that the establishment of a CFTA would provide Africa with tremendous opportunity to achieve significant growth driven by intra-African trade.”
According to Buhari, while the stakes in setting up CFTA are very high, the benefits are wide-ranging and significant.
“The primary objective is economic, namely, for trade in goods and services on the continent. A single, unified market would lead to a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among AU member states. If we integrate Africa’s market for trade in goods and services, we will not only double intra-African trade but also negotiate with other regions or continents on trade matters,” he said.
President Buhari argued further that, “if we increase our trade, we grow faster, create more jobs and reduce poverty. Thus, with CFTA, our continent will be more integrated, united and prosperous.”
He noted that the, “CFTA will carry significant welfare gains associated with increased production, consumption and revenue.