As part of new efforts to grow continental trade relations in non-oil deals, the Federal Government on Thursday, opened a window expand Nigeria’s trade with other countries of the world by inaugurating a national committee for the Continental Free Trade Area negotiations.
Business Hilights recalls that African Union Heads of State and Government at their summit in 2012, decided to establish a Continental Free Trade Area, as part of a plan to industrialize the Continent by 2063 as well as boost Intra-Africa trade, which is currently, at only 19 per cent.
Minister Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, said the Nigerian Economic Summit Group will from henceforth, be part of the Nigerian negotiating team for the CFTA.
While revealing that President Muhammadu Buhari has given his nod, Enelamah said the 20 member committee has representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Office of the Vice President; Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Nigeria Customs Service; and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Agencies coming on board the committee also include the Central Bank of Nigeria; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; NESG; Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission; National Bureau of Statistics; National Association of Nigerian Traders; and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
Others are National Coalition of Service Industry; National Association of Small Scale Industries; Representatives of Academia; Representatives of Digital Economy (Jumia, Iroko and Andela).
Key responsibilities of the committee include advising government on the CFTA negotiations, across all the negotiating areas, including, but not limited to goods, services, investment, competition and intellectual property.
The new committee will also undertake analysis to ensure that the negotiations and emerging results is in tandem with the goals established by the Federal Government as well as identify the opportunities and challenges facing the country in trade with other African countries.
While seeing the new move as a game changer for the Nigerian economy, the Minister said with the instrument of trade negotiations, the government can diversify the economy, create jobs and ensure inclusive growth.
According to him, time has come for Nigeria to grow and modernize the Nigerian economy through African trade integration.
“This would require focus, discipline, organization, determination and the exercise of that famous entrepreneurial spirit for which Nigerians are renowned the world-over.
“The inauguration of the National Committee for the CFTA, today, is therefore, intended to reinforce the process for national economic recovery and development, across all areas. Today’s inauguration is auspicious and timely.”