In a bid to create a single market for goods and services and deepen economic integration among African countries, the Lagos State ministry of commerce, industry and cooperatives has inaugurated the state’s technical working group on Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
The stakeholders at the inauguration held Tuesday, said the development will positively impact trading in the state.
“We will be creating the single market through progressive elimination of tariffs on 90 percent of tradable goods, elimination of non-tariff barriers, harmonization of policies for trade in services and free movement of persons,” said Lola Akande, the commissioner for commerce, industry and cooperative.
She said many of the country’s challenges today, whether relating to poverty, unemployment or underemployment, to mention but a few, are rooted in the fact that Nigeria has not been able to domesticate the production of her most basic needs.
“The domestication of this trade agreement will re-energise the State’s aspirations for industrialisation as well as positioning the State as an investment hub and market destination for goods and services of the highest quality standard for 1.2 billion consumers that AfCFTA has the potential to bring to our doorsteps.
“It will enhance the competitiveness of the State’s MSMEs at the industry and enterprise levels through exploiting opportunities for scale of production, job creation and better re-allocation of resources,” said Akande. “It will provide a platform for MSMEs integration into the regional economy and accelerate both youth and women empowerment.”
In addition, the commissioner said it will boost wages for both skilled and unskilled workers and further address the challenges faced by micro, small and medium enterprises in the course of trading in goods and services.
“We in Lagos believe that an increase in trade is the surest way to deepen economic integration of the State into the African economy,” she said.
In his remarks, Abiola Okanlawon Olowu, special adviser to the governor, said it was commendable that the state has in the members of the Technical Working Group, a formidable team comprising technocrats and leading businessmen.
“As we work to domesticate AfCFTA agreements here in Lagos, we will deploy the new trade instrument for the promotion of our products and services amongst African countries.
“This will encourage broad-based growth in key sectors of the economy and assist in boosting private sector investments across industry, agriculture and services sectors,” he said.
AfCFTA is a free trade area encompassing most of Africa. It was established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which has 43 parties and another 11 signatories, making it the largest free-trade area by number of member states, after the World Trade Organization.