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Customs, AfCFTA open talks on expansion of intra-African trade

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Worried by the low trade volume between countries in Africa, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has started discussions with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat to facilitate trade and engender economic growth in Africa.

Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), confirmed this during a meeting at the Customs corporate headquarters, Abuja, on Monday, where he welcomed members of AfCFTA.

The Customs boss highlighted the importance of balancing trade facilitation and revenue, pointing out that Africa’s share in global trade remains at a modest 3–4 percent.

Lamenting the stagnant growth of the African trade system at 14–15 percent over the last three to four years, Adeniyi expressed optimism about the potential benefits of trade, such as economic growth, job creation, and poverty alleviation. He stressed the role of Customs trade in fostering regional and international bonds.

Reflecting on AfCFTA’s inception over a decade ago, he expressed joy at the positive projections for the continental free trade area. He described the Guide Trade Initiative as crucial for countries aiming to expand their trade markets, emphasising the need for collaboration in verifying goods’ origin at the port.

The CGC projected a two percent increase in trade, aiming to lift over one million people out of poverty and contributing significantly to a N450 billion GDP boost. He outlined measures taken by the Customs to enhance trade facilitation, including a time-release study in collaboration with other government agencies.

Wamkele Mene, the secretary-general of AfCFTA, congratulated Adeniyi on his appointment and expressed excitement about addressing trade issues in Africa.

Stressing the importance of cooperation between AfCFTA and NCS, Mene highlighted the potential impact of the collaboration on trade and revenue generation across various African countries.

The partnership between AfCFTA and NCS seeks to streamline customs procedures, reduce trade barriers, and enhance the efficiency of cross-border trade.

This collaboration marks a milestone in the ongoing efforts to harness the economic potential of the African continent through improved trade practices, reinforcing the commitment to intra-African trade and economic integration.