• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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‘TFA will be favourable to Nigeria’s manufacturing sector’

Minister assures manufacturers of FG’s support

Chijioke Ekechukwu is the director-general of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry‎. In this interview with Harrison Edeh, he says that the Trade Facilitation Agreement(TFA) with the European Union will be beneficial to Nigeria. Nigeria recently held a high-powered meeting, which focused on trade facilitation and ‎integrating the economy to the ECOWAS and African markets. What are the likely impacts of this kind of meeting on the economy?

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is one of the key areas that the European Union is interested in and has actually committed a lot of resources into ensuring that it works. Having said that, the TFA is an arrangement that seeks to ensure that countries in the developing nations are comprehensively integrated into the global business community.

Having studied the content and safeguarding measures put in place to ensure that indigenous products are not placed on any disadvantage as compared to the ones emanating from the foreign markets, there is a need for Nigeria to key into this agenda. The TFA has the possibility and capability to integrate our massive population into the global business hub and even move a step further by directly adding value to the wealth creation efforts of the country. Consequently, the population will stand to gainfully benefit from the value chains in the commercial activities.

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Do you see the possibility of this kind of meeting strengthening Nigeria’s international cooperation and investments? The meeting was a step in the right direction. The problem is the slow nature of carrying out business concerns that have links with the government. The bureaucratic bottlenecks are always stumbling blocks against every effort geared towards fast-tracking economic development.

The time has come for the government not to look at the Organised Private Sector (OPS) as competitors but a collection of people that have a vast reservoir of knowledge, expertise, experience and capital to turnaround the prevailing economic situation for the better.
Nigeria needs to step up the game by conclusively deciding on what next to do to strengthen international cooperation ties that would be built on our areas of comparative or competitive advantages.

‎Nigeria is also spear-heading the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) negotiations. How will the agreement impact Nigeria and improve investments inflow into the economy?

Spearheading the Continental Trade Agreement is not enough. The next question to ask is, how sustainable have we been able to build our own structures? And how formidable are these structures in the presence of the unpredictable nature of consequences that may arise from international cooperation of such magnitude?
These are the things we as responsible OPS are interested in.

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The problem, in my understanding, has really never been the absence of inflow of foreign capital into the country based on the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) figures that are already in the public domain. Nigeria recently improved its ranking on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business. What’s your view on that? For us at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), it is a welcome development. But more efforts need to be injected into it.

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) is a step in the right direction and it is one measure which saw Nigeria making appreciable progress in the last Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rating that was released by the World Bank earlier this month in which Nigeria made commendable outlook. Interestingly, it is also around the same time we are exiting the recession. That is why tagging the 2018 budget as ‘Budget of Consolidation’ has some touchy elements. It is, however, sad that the recurrent is still larger than the capital expenditure but the reasonable amount was allocated to the latter. We hope that subsequently, the country would be interested in consolidating on the gains already recorded.

It is not yet Uhuru though. When viewed from the concrete perspective that the activities of the PEBEC are felt only in large commercial nerve centres such as Lagos, Kano and the nation’s capital, Abuja, it is equally noteworthy that we emphasise that such activities are made to be felt across all states of the federation. That is the only way the effect of economic growth will trickle down to the grassroots and actually go a long way in integrating the critical mass of the population into the economic emancipation strides of the system.

 

Odinaka Anudu