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UN, Nigeria on different pages at implementing CFTA regime

Whereas the United Nations on Monday called on the Federal Government and other countries on the African continent to fast-track the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the federal government has given reason why it may not be so easy for Nigeria in particular.

The UN made the call in a special message delivered at an event in Abuja on Monday to celebrate the African industrialisation by the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon.

According to the global body, Timely implementation of the agreement would enhance Africa’s industrialisation and promote the continent’s progress towards economically enriched, socially inclusive and prosperous societies”.

Kallon said for the CFTA to reach its full potential in empowering African economies, a favourable business environment of social inclusion, business incentives and adequate industrial policies was necessary.

He stated, “The industrial development of many African nations is not realised due to market constraints and other factors such as trade and custom barriers, free access to finance and the harmonisation of policies at the continental level.

“I reaffirm the commitment of the UN to enhancing Africa’s industrialisation and encouraging the CFTA implementation in a timely manner in order to promote the continent’s progress towards economically enriched and prosperous societies.”

But in a sharp contrast, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah said the need to industrialise the continent had made it imperative for policy makers to move from rhetoric to action.

He said the implementation of the CFTA was hinged on industrialisation, adding that without a solid industrial base, it would be difficult to successfully implement the agreement.

The minister said it was based on this understanding that the Federal Government came up with policies to encourage the consumption of locally made products, stressing that with a population close to 200 million people, Nigeria cannot rely on foreign countries to meet its needs.

Enelamah averred that the huge population of the country provided a big market for the manufacturing sector to produce goods that would be consumed locally and also fit for exports and noted that much have been achieved since the introduction of economy diversification.