Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that Nigeria would not sign any treaty without assessing the impact it would have on the lives of Nigerians.
President Buhari made the remark, on Monday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while inaugurating the nation’s Committee for Impact and Readiness Assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
According to him, Nigeria would henceforth take its time, breakaway from past practice, where treaties were signed without the needed positive gains for the country.
His words, “We are determined to breakaway form the past practice of committing Nigeria to treaties without a definite implementation plan to actualise the expected benefit while mitigating the risks.
“We cannot go back to the days of signing agreements without understanding and planning for the consequences of such actions and our country being the worst for it.
“Few months ago I directed a nationwide stakeholders’ engagement on the Africa Free Trade Continental Area Agreement to understand the true impact of this agreement on Nigeria and Nigerians, considering the existing domestic and regional policies as it relates to trade.
“From the consultation, the key issues raised by stakeholders were abuse of rules of origin, smuggling arising from difficulties in border controls, unqualified impact of legacy preferential trade agreements, low capacity and capability of local businesses to conduct international trade, costly finance, insufficient energy and transport logistics infrastructure but our Economic recovery and Growth Plan is addressing these issues,” he said.
The President charged the committee to concentrate on the issues raised during the nationwide consultations in order to find lasting solutions to them.
President Buhari continued, “Your task as members of the Impact and Readiness Assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area Committee is to address the issues raised during the stakeholders’ consultations on the Africa Continental free trade Agreement.
“You are expected to develope short, medium and long term measures that will address any challenges arising there from.”
He further stated that Nigeria’s vision for intra-African trade is for a free movement of made in Africa goods.
Noting that Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, President Buhari regretted that for too long, the country’s domestic productive capabilities were neglected in favour of imports.
He noted that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan introduced by the current administration will help revive key job creating and import substitution sectors like agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
Speaking earlier, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, listed the Presidential Committee on the Africa Continental free Trade Area Impact Assessment and Readiness terms of reference of the committee to include: To assess the potential cost and impact of the Africa Continental free Trade Area AFCTA for Nigeria in relation to the benefits; identify the short, medium and long term measure to prepare Nigerian businesses for the take off of AFCTA trading group and a backup plan that covers selected scenarios and view the trade remedy options to safeguard the Nigerian economy form predatory and failed trade practices.
Enelamah said an updated trade policy was being prepared for Nigeria and the draft would be ready for review by the end of the year.
The Presidential Committee has the Minister of Industry as its Chairman, with the Chief of Staff to the President as Co-Chairman.
Ministers of Budget and National Planning, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Justice, economic Adviser to the President, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, President Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and President, Nigeria Labour Congress among others, as members.