AfCFTA: Stakeholders to assess Nigeria’s preparedness

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  • As Primetime Reporters Conclude Plans for 3rd Annual lecture

(Report by Udeme Clement):

Stakeholders will on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 converge in Lagos, to take look at Nigeria’s preparedness for African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and how the country can maximize the gains inherent in it.

The stakeholders will gather at the instance of a popular online newspaper; Primetime Reporters to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA.

The event, which is the 3rd Annual Lecture and Awards ceremony of the medium, has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.”
Also, the programme will witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians, who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endavours.

According to the Managing Director/ Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning at 10.00am prompt.

Nwadinamuo disclosed that the Annual Lecture and Awards will be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara, of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf will be the lead paper presenter.

He went on to inform that the Secretary of NAC on AfCFTA, Mr. Francis Anatogu will be the Special Guest of honour, as he had promised to attend the event in person, to update Nigerians on the progress made so far.

Recall that Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, DC Joseph Attah, earlier in the year, noted that instead of proceeding in a chaotic manner, the Service as policy implementor understood the importance of spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the agreement and conditions for implementation.

While re-confirming the willingness and readiness of the Service to play its role as trade facilitators in this regard, Attah reminded the public that the functions of NCS were highly automated and primarily systems driven, hence the need to methodically harvest and integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into its system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.

He informed that the Service awaits NAC on the list of duties and charges waived for liberalized goods under AfCTA, the list of 90% liberalized National Trade Offers, list of 70% Non-liberalized exclusive goods at the regional level, the list of 3% Non-Liberalized sensitive goods, as well as the appointment of a competent Authority responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises, as well as products within the region.

The Customs spokesman further recommended that each member country should have a representative in the continental Chamber of Commerce to ensure transparency within the body, thereby building confidence in the system. This, he said, should be complementary to the activities of various Chambers of Commerce of each country in the region.

“While awaiting clear directives concerning tariffs for all goods covered by this agreement, we want to assure the public of our preparedness to fully deploy our services at the shortest notice. Our desire is to imbue trust in the system while we guarantee the economic safety and wellbeing of businesses within the country.

“We look with optimism to an era of complete economic integration, which will lead to growth and prosperity for businesses within the region”, he said.

AfCFTA commenced January 1, 2021.
The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of World Trade Organisation.

The Federal Executive Council ratified Nigeria’s membership of AfCFTA on November 11, 2020. This occured more than a year after Nigeria signed the Agreement in July 2019. The Agreement establishes a single market for goods and services across 54 countries, allows for free movement of business travelers, investments, and creates a unified customs union to streamline trade on the Continent.

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