AfCFTA: North-east Stake­hold­ers Want Zone Listed on An­chor Bor­row­ers’ Pro­gramme

THISDAY - - NEWS - Olawale Aji­mo­tokan in Abuja

The North-east stake­hold­ers fo­rum has sup­ported the agree­ment es­tab­lish­ing the African Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) while also mak­ing a key de­mand on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to ex­tend the cov­er­age of the CBN An­chor Bor­row­ers’ Pro­gramme to the geo-po­lit­i­cal zone.

They also re­solved at the AfCFTA sen­si­ti­sa­tion fo­rum held in Maiduguri on Tues­day that the es­tab­lish­ment of a con­ti­nen­tal free trade area was a nec­es­sary step in the 21st cen­tury global econ­omy.

Nige­rian Of­fice Trade Ne­go­ti­a­tions (NOTN) has been con­sult­ing stake­hold­ers na­tion­wide on the ben­e­fits of the agree­ment to re­move tar­iffs and pro­mote in­tra- African trade and co­op­er­a­tion, since gov­ern­ment de­clined to rat­ify the com­pre­hen­sive pact in Ki­gali on March 21.

Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Small and Medium En­ter­prises (NASME), Nige­rian Labour Congress (NLC), Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Cham­bers of Com­merce, In­dus­try, Mines and Agri­cul­ture (NACCIMA), Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Nige­ria (MAN), Nige­rian As­so­ci­a­tion of Small Scale In­dus­tri­al­ists (NASSI), Nige­rian Trade Ex­perts Fo­rum (NTEF) and the Na­tional Eco­nomic Sum­mit Group (NESG) were some of the stake­hold­ers rep­re­sented at the event.

The Mar­ket As­so­ci­a­tions of the North­east geo-po­lit­i­cal zone, made the re­quest for the CBN bor­row­ers’ scheme, de­mand­ing the gov­ern­ment to fund the com­ple­tion of the map­ping of MSMEs in the zone, in ad­di­tion to funds for mi­cro-credit and trade fi­nance and re­store historic in­tra-African trade cor­ri­dors

link­ing the zone with Cen­tral Africa, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Bornu State Gov­er­nor Kashim Shet­tima gave

full and un­di­vided sup­port to AfCFTA, which he said was de­signed to ex­pand in­tra-African trade.

He said cross border trade be­tween the zone and the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries had over­time led to eco­nomic growth, job cre­ation and the over­all pros­per­ity of the zone.

The fo­rum re­it­er­ated the ur­gency, as iden­ti­fied in the pre­sen­ta­tions on the in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion pro­gramme and the Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Growth Plan (ERPG), where ac­tion is re­quired, on an im­me­di­ate and per­ma­nent ba­sis to sup­port Nige­rian man­u­fac­tur­ers and ser­vice providers.

The pre­sen­ta­tion on trade, cov­ered pro­to­cols, re­sult­ing from Stage 1 of the ne­go­tia- tions for Trade in Goods and Ser­vices, in­clud­ing pro­to­col on the rules and pro­ce­dures on the set­tle­ment of dis­putes.

The pre­sen­ta­tion also re­viewed the built-in le­gal pro­vi­sions in the agree­ment for ap­pro­pri­ate safe­guards for strategic ar­eas of the Nige­rian econ­omy for rea­sons of in­dus­trial pol­icy, na­tional se­cu­rity, food se­cu­rity, job cre­ation and, coun­ter­vail­ing un­fair and in­ju­ri­ous eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties against the Nige­rian econ­omy, in­clud­ing trans­ship­ment and dump­ing in the Nige­rian mar­ket, smug­gling and piracy, all of which un­der­mined at­tempts at in­dus­tri­al­is­ing the Nige­rian econ­omy.

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