Nigeria’s r Organised Private Sector (OPS) has warned that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) may be at risk if the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa is not checked
The Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) said the attack might threaten the smooth take- off of the pact, which recently got a boost with Nigeria’s signing to birth the world’s largest free trade zone.
Describing the latest turn of events as unfortunate, MAN called on the leadership of Nigeria and South Africa to immediately take action in the interest of the continent.
The MAN Director General, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said it was a great embarrassment which was not good for development of continental trade.
According to him, the attacks on Nigerians and their businesses may have dire consequences should Nigeria take a solid diplomatic action against South Africa in the area of trade.
He reasoned that AfCFTA agreement which is being fine-tuned, would facilitate easy and free flow of trade among African countries, as its aim is to establish the continent as a giant in international trade and economy.
“The two governments are leaders on the continent as what happened remains a global embarrassment to Africa. The two must have a structured engagement to educate the people on free movement of trade. This is 21st century, every country on the continent must conform to integration”, he said. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, signed the continental trade agreement on July 7, 2019, more than a year after the agreement had been initiated. The deal is expected to improve intra-African trade, enhance economic growth and sustainable development.
Nigeria became the 53rd country to join the African Continental Free Trade Area after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the AfCFTA agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) on the launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger Republic.
A total of 26 African countries have deposited instruments of ratification, with Gabon being the latest after depositing its instrument of ratification during the Extraordinary Summit.
The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019, 30 days after receiving the 22nd instrument of ratification on April 29, 2019 in conformity with the legal provision.
It aims to bring together all the 55 members of AU in a single market of 1.2 billion people by removing trade barriers such as tariffs across Africa. The deal is expected to boost regional trade and allow companies to expand and enter new markets. Manufacturing industry currently accounts for only about 10 per cent of the African Union’s combined GDP of $3.4 trillion and the trade deal, it is believed, could make the sector more competitive and productive.The first step of the deal is to cut tariffs for goods from countries within the bloc but the timeframe to do this is yet to be announced.
The African Union says that the African Continental Free Trade Area – called AfCFTA – will create the world’s largest free trade area. It also estimates that implementing AfCFTA will lead to around a 60% boost in intra-African trade by 2022.