• Thursday, June 20, 2024
businessday logo


FG develops negotiation template for international trade

FG develops negotiation template for international trade

Yonov Agah, director-general, Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), and Chief Trade Negotiator (CTN), on Friday announced that a national template that will guide Nigeria’s trade negotiations at both regional and multilateral level will be ready by June 2022.

The Chief Trade Negotiator explained that the template will define Nigeria’s interest and development objectives, as well as expectations from any negotiations whether with the US, EU, UK or any trade partner (s); and across different areas to include trade in goods, trade in services, Intellectual Property, investment, and business cooperation.

“We will highlight what we need so that we can put that in the table during negotiations,” Agah said during the closing ceremony of the “National Intensive Trade Negotiations Simulation Skills Course” organized by NOTN in collaboration with ODI & UKaid for Nigerians selected from Ministries and agencies, Organised Private Sector, and Civil Society Groups in Abuja.

The DG said the template will factor concerns of all interested stakeholders across the country. “The template is being developed, we are consulting with stakeholders, then we will go to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval and that becomes our negotiating mandate in dealing with any trading partner,” he said.

The DG stressed that trade is about creating opportunities for businesses and should be a win-win situation.

On the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the DG informed that negotiations around rules of origin are still ongoing. He said “AfCFTA is going to happen gradually. Trading started politically on 1st January 2021, but in reality we are still grappling with the rules of origin, documentation, elements of customs cooperation and the final agreements in phase one is yet to be reached. He however said the payment system is now in place.

“It’s an ongoing process; it’s not a matter of being in a hurry, it’s a matter of getting it right so that the continent doesn’t become a market for third parties, but a market for African companies with value addition and better value chains to help grow the economies of the various countries,” Agah said.

Read also: Trade, access to finance critical to creating quality jobs – Experts

Dickson Yeboah from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), also speaking, stressed that all stakeholders in Nigeria have to be consulted, so that when they go to the negotiation table, they are better prepared to defend national interest of Nigeria.

He said participants at the simulation skills course have been exposed to new ways in negotiating trade in services and investment which could attract more investment for Nigeria and boost employment opportunities.

“WTO deals with trade agreement and a legal framework which have to be favourable to enable Nigeria export to world markets. In this respect, the training has achieved its objectives by equipping the Nigerian team on how to negotiate trade deals for Nigeria.

“Trade negotiation skills are a way out of recession, therefore, this can expand trade for Nigeria and economic growth,” he added.

Oluwasegun Oshidipe, Director, Research and Advocacy at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) applauded the simulation skills course, describing it as a deliberate step to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along in preparation for either regional or multilateral negotiations.

“A plan to have a national negotiations template is nouvelle to us, for us at the private sector, this is a good development, it’s the beginning of a new dawn,” he said.