• Saturday, March 02, 2024
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Updated: Buhari signs AfCFTA agreement

Buhari
Nigeria on Sunday, became the 53rd African country to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, as President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed the agreement on Sunday in Niamey, Niger Republic.
This is just as Accra, the capital of Ghana was selected to host the secretariat of the AFCFTA.
Twenty four countries have already ratified the AfCFTA which is expected to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization with a potential market of 1.2 billion people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2 5 trillion, across all 55 member states of the African Union.
The President signed the agreement at exactly 10.48 am local time, at the opening of the 12th Extra Ordinary Summit of the African Union on launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.
Buhari speaking after signing the agreement, told the Summit that Nigeria will build on the event by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA.
President declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration have  never been in doubt nor was it ever under threat.
‘‘Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade.
‘‘As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population.
He said Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA, adding that “ We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want,’’
The Nigerian leader also congratulated Ghana on being selected to host the Secretariat of the AfCFTA.
‘‘I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘‘This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018.
‘‘In fact, you will recall that the treaty establishing the African Economic Community was signed in Abuja in 1991.
‘‘We fully understand the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges, whether security, economic or corruption.
‘‘But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society stakeholders and the public in general.
‘‘It is against this background that we embarked on an extensive nationwide consultation and sensitization programme of our domestic stakeholders on the AfCFTA.
‘‘Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services.
‘‘It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade which is the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods’ “
Buhari who also stated that some of the critical challenges identified will require a collective action as a Union, said “we will be presenting them for consideration at the appropriate AfCFTA fora.
He listed the challenges to include “tackling injurious trade practices by third parties and attracting the investment we need to grow local manufacturing and service capacities.’’
President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s signing of the AfCFTA and its Operational Launch at the 12th Extraordinary Summit was an additional major step. forward on the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Buhari had delayed in signing the agreement, which entered into force May 30, 2019 to give room for extensive consultations with stakeholders, culminating in the submission of the report by the Presidential Committee to Assess Impact and Readiness of Nigeria to join the free trade area.
The committee had recommended that Nigeria should sign the agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently attending the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union where the continent will launch the operational instruments of the Agreement establishing AfCFTA.
The instruments include: AfCFTA Rules of Origin, Tariff Concession Portals, Portal on Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, Digital Payments and Clearing Systems and African Trade and Observatory Dashboard.
Recall that President Buhari had delayed signing the documents until his administration had embarked on extensive consultations with stakeholders, culminating in the submission of the report by the Presidential Committee to Assess Impact and Readiness of Nigeria to join the AfCFTA.
The committee had recommended that Nigeria should sign the agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade.
President Buhari appended his signature to the treaty in the presence of African Heads of State and Government, delegates and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media attending the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA