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AfCFTA: Nigeria will emerge most resilient economy in Africa – experts

Trade facilitation stakeholders in Nigeria are optimistic that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement would provide the opportunity for the country to meet its aspiration of economic diversification through non-oil export to other parts of Africa. Presently non-oil exports of Nigeria account for about 10 percent of total exports while oil accounts for about 90 percent.

The experts from most sectors equally agreed that greater collaboration among government agencies and private sector bodies towards ensuring easy processes will go a long way to enhance Nigeria’s realization of the objectives of the agreement.

Speaking at a sensitisation workshop recently, the secretary of the National Action Committee (NAC) on the AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu told the trade experts in Lagos, that Nigeria’s vision is to become the most resilient economy in Africa through intra-Africa export growth and economic diversification.

According to Anatogu, who doubles as senior special assistant to the president on public sector matters, said state governments, ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government need to domesticate and establish the AfCFTA desks in their various organisations in order to support the government’s bid to achieve a sustainable economy through export growth.

The workshop themed AfCFTA: ‘Improving export process and rules of origin implementation was organised by the NAC and attended by public and private sector players in trade facilitation.

In her remarks, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, expressed optimism that AfCFTA would enable Africa to reverse the age-long trend where the direction of trade has been towards Europe and other continents.

The NPA boss represented by Elisha Usoro, general manager, corporate strategic planning division, maintained that port as a crucial point in international logistics would play an important role for the success of the AfCFTA, adding that for port to deliver on this mandate, efficiency is a key factor in terms of quality of services and port cost.

Expressing concerns over maritime trade in Nigeria, Usman said maritime traffic is skewed in favour of imports because the country is increasingly import-dependent, adding that freight cost remain high due to trade imbalance, ports congestion and weak infrastructure.

In a bid to maximise the benefits of the AfCFTA, Usman said, the NPA was implementing Trade Single Window for the ports as well as simplification of port processes through automation and quality assurance for agricultural commodities for export to avoid rejection.

Lola Akande, the Lagos State commissioner for commerce, industry and cooperatives represented by the permanent secretary, Sewedo Oluseyi Whenu, said the sensitisation was timely and apt to enlighten the stakeholders on the importance of rules of origin and trade facilitation intervention in a single continental market.

Speaking on the fundamentals of export process, a trade expert with the AfCFTA-NAC, Olusegun Olutayo, stressed that the success of the implementation of the AfCFTA would depend on the proper administration of rules of origin by the Designated Competent Authority saddled by Article 21 of the agreement to issue a certificate of origin to approved exporters.

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