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Proper documentation, value addition crucial for effective AfCFTA participation

As Nigeria moves to accrue sufficient benefits under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), trade and export specialists have advised the need to employ proper documentation and value addition practices.

This was discussed at a seminar themed AfCFTA; the roadmap for exporters successful participation hosted by the export group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

Toki Mabogunje, president, LCCI said that the impact of the pandemic on oil prices as well as the shift in the demand for crude oil has necessitated the need to grow Nigeria’s non-oil exports to enjoy competitive advantage under the trade agreement.

She noted that the exportation of primary products to the global community without value addition will not generate the desired level of foreign exchange needed to achieve economic diversification and accelerated growth.

Read Also: AfCFTA: Handling the challenge of capacity

“ With full implementation of AfCFTA, Nigerian exporters will gain access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services, these enormous potentials can only become tangible outcomes when we focus on value addition, which will help accelerate the development of the non-oil sector while boosting Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings,” she said.

Mabogunje represented by Sunnie Omeiza-Michael, assistant director, advocacy and research, said that there is a need to improve the quality of commodities exported from Nigeria, as over 76 percent of Nigeria’s exported agricultural commodities are rejected by the European Union for not meeting required standards and lacking proper documentation.

She also urged non-oil exporters and participants of the trade agreement to adhere to the rules and provision of other trading partners.

Francais Anatogu, secretary, National Action Committee, AfCFTA said while there are numerous challenges to the successful implementation of the trade agreement, it is important not to wait till all challenges are resolved before participating despite the focus on oil, Nigeria has a lot of marketable products, adding that the key is to

“As we export and the demand is growing it will encourage more participants especially in non-oil commodities and services.” He said

Speaking to BusinessDay, he said the AfCFTA is not necessarily inactive in Nigeria, as people were already exporting formally and informally prior to the trade agreement,

The challenge is that we are not getting the value especially in services because of poor documentation like the intellectual property right which is not respected so our people are working for a fraction of what is expected

“However the goal is to simplify the export process and boost intra-African trade and it requires application of due processes, while building our capacity to export, we need to make domestic products viable and attractive through value addition, furthermore, catalyzing domestic demand is a critical element,” he said.

He added that the successful implementation of the trade agreement will require the collaboration of all the chambers of commerce, the organized private sector, regulatory agencies and financial institutions as sharing resources and cost makes it easier to export.

Bosun Solarin, chairperson, LCCI export group said that despite its preparedness towards the trade agreement there is need for additional efforts on the part of exporters, manufacturers and service providers, noting that Nigeria is still facing challenges passing the standardization test despite having the very best products

“In implementing the trade agreement exporters will need to expand their capacity, increase the value of their products and ensure proper documentation,” she said.

Obidike Ifeyinwa, director, trade information, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) who represented Olusegun Awolowo, CEO, NEPC said other than value added non-oil exports the demand for services has been on the rise creating ample opportunity with comparative advantage.

She stated that in delivering services, it is important to acquire proper certification and documentation to increase the chances of acceptance and endorsement.

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