By Charles Nwaoguji
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on Federal government for the establishment of National Action Committee on Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to coordinate relevant Ministries, Departments, Agencies of Government and relevant Private Sector Groups to drive the implementation of the AfCFTA readiness projects and initiatives.
According statement to made available to Skybirdnews Group through its Director General, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, the decision of the Committee to recommend that Mr. President append his signature to the agreement was premised on the above stated conditions and it is hoped that these were duly attached to the President’s signature.
“We count, very strongly, on the commitment of government to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector and indeed other economic actors to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the continental free trade area and to, quite importantly, mitigate the multifarious risks. We also expect that MAN would be part of the national structures and processes that would be put in place by the Federal Government to manage the process,” he said.
He said there is urgent need for the Government to initiate policies that would encourage startups in the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise, this sector contributes over 80% of the Gross Domestic product, and if properly incentivized and supported could be able to ramp up production and total exports of the country.
As the country commits to this, in addition to the President’s call for fair trade, he said, “we believe that the Government will back her words with action by putting the necessary measures in place to prevent an abuse of agreement.”
In addressing the issue of the country’s porous border which encouraged smuggling of foreign goods, he said there could not have been a better time to adopt technology-based border policing and surveillance to check abuse of the intra-Africa Trade protocols and trade malpractices.
Overall, he stated that all should work towards having a beneficial trade engagement in Africa. Effectively mitigating the risks and taking advantage of the opportunities of a 1.2 Billion market and $2.5 trillion GDP.
On the side of the private sector, he said, “we need to optimize our processes and innovate to outperform our contemporaries in the other countries of Africa. Of course, we shall work together to prevail on the Government to do its own bit by providing the conducive atmosphere. The infrastructure challenges such as poor electricity supply, deplorable road network and lack of adequate transportation system (rail network) etc. that constitute the supply constraints should be removed.
He said that there are needed policies to improve the macroeconomic environment should be put in place and existing ease of doing business initiatives strengthened, especially to lower cost and grow existing capacities.
To aid the competitiveness of local manufacturers, he said government should strongly address the issue of multiple taxation and over regulation of the production sector which has added to the existing myriad of challenges.
“For an open trade arrangement of this nature, we recommend that Industries that would be negatively impacted by the influx of goods should be supported to invest in new areas and displaced labour retrained to take on new employments or vocation,” he added.
It be recalled earlier, that the President Muhammadu Buhari, signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement on July 7, 2019 at the African Union (AU) Extra Ordinary Meeting held in Niamey, Niger Republic.