Four months to the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Nigeria has ramped up activities to take full advantage of the continental trade integration initiative.
Strategic stakeholders from private and public sectors met in Abuja over the weekend to firm up plans for Nigeria’s full participation in the AfCFTA.
In the financial sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is pushing for the integration of the 700 banks in the continent.
Dr. Hassan Mahmud, the Director of Monetary Policy Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said: “there are about 700 banks in Africa, however, they only account for about 5 percent of the global banking network. Continental integration in the banking system is key to strengthen the sector as a whole in Africa.”
The Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Ms. Yewande Sadiku, told the participants that Nigeria is prepared for the operationalization of the AfCFTA than most African countries.
According to her, “many Nigerian companies, particularly in the services sector, have long developed the capacity to serve the rest of Africa.”
She added that: “while large domestic market makes Nigeria the ideal gateway economy, Nigeria’s manufacturing value addition is more than seven times the average of the top 20 economies in Africa.”
Aliyu M. Abubakar, the Director of Trade at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said, “Transit is an important component of International Trade as it ensures smooth delivery of goods to landlocked countries and fosters Regional Integration.
“Therefore, efficient transit coordination among member countries will contribute tremendously to the success of regional arrangements of AfCFTA, he said”
Abubakar advised the AfCFTA member countries “to engage their Transit Coordinators for effective and efficient implementation of Transit regime. Members are encouraged to ensure better cooperation and adherence to rules governing Transit.”
On his part, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan, remarked that an effective Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) is critical to ensuring predictability and security in a regional or continental trading arrangement, such as the AfCFTA.
He noted that “the culture of non-utilization of formal dispute settlement systems in Africa and the existence of multi-dispute resolution systems could be sources of challenges for the AfCFTA DSM.
Nigeria he said “has a robust legal system and as such, exhausting local remedies should be the first option before engaging an international DSM”.
According to him, “there must be an existing legislation/regulation and an Investigating Authority recognized by international organizations as the body responsible to investigate and recommend appropriate remedies for each unfair practice.