By Franca Ofili
Mr Adetokunbo Kayode, President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry has commended Federal Government’s decision to make Nigeria a signatory to the establishment of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Kayode gave the commendation in a statement signed by Mr Gena Lubem, the Media and Protocol Officer of the chamber in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the agreement represents a major opportunity for Nigerian businesses to gain greater access to the fast growing African market.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), had on Wednesday approved that Nigeria should sign the framework agreement for the establishment of the initiative.
The agreement would be sealed by regional leaders during the Extraordinary Meeting of African Union Heads of States and Governments scheduled to hold on March 21 in Kigali, Rwanda.
“It is vital that Nigerian businesses continue to diversify their export markets and with this agreement, trade barriers for companies across a number of sectors will be reduced thereby creating access to new markets within Africa.
“Intra African trade as a driver for economic diversification can help to harness the unexploited opportunities that exist in many product categories, particularly food and agricultural products.
“I am optimistic that the AfCFTA will increase intra-Africa trade by about 52 per cent, resulting in an increase of African manufacturing exports from the current average in which manufacturing only represents about 10 per cent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Africa.
“The potential for the AfCFTA is big for both structural transformation and poverty alleviation in Africa.
“Nigerian businesses will have access to nearly 1.2 billion consumers through this agreement and Nigeria’s engagement in this region is important as it builds our presence in markets where we should be doing much more business,” Kayode said.
According to him, the chamber will do everything it can to ensure that Nigerian businesses take full advantage of the opportunities that are being created by virtue of the AfCFTA.
Kayode added that the chamber would work with the government to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the agreement.
He called on the government to work closely with all sectors to guarantee broad-based implementation of the AfCFTA.
Kayode urged the Federal Government to take all possible policy measures to ensure that the Nigerian business environment remains a competitive destination for investment in all sectors of the economy.
He said that the agreement to establish the AfCFTA would launch the Single Liberalised Market for Trade in Goods and Services.
Kayode added that it would also serve as a negotiated rules-based system to establish the rule of law in trade, deepen, and expand intra-Africa trade. (NAN)