Nigerian government has intensified efforts to start actual trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in third quarter (Q3) 2021, the Secretary of the National Action Committee (NAC) on the Agreement, Francis Anatogu told trade experts in Lagos on Thursday.
As at the time of fielding this report, Daily Commerce observed that no state parties to the AfCFTA Agreement has officially accepted the offers of another on tariff liberalisation as harmonisation process of different regional custom unions remain complex, contributing to delay in actual trading under the single market.
Over fifty African countries are party to the AfCFTA, which entered into force on 1st January, 2021, Nigeria and other AfCFTA member states are still dragging feet on the establishment of local Designated Competent Authority to administer rules of origin as stipulated by the Agreement.
Anatogu, who spoke at the AfCFTA Trade Facilitation Stakeholders Sensitisation organised by the NAC, said Nigeria’s vision is to become the most resilient economy in Africa through intra-Africa export growth and economic diversification, adding that part of the immediate goals is to commence trading by Q3, 2021.
In her remarks, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, expressed optimism that AfCFTA would enable Africa to reverse the age-long trend where our direction of trade has been towards Europe and other continents. The NPA boss maintained that port as a nodal point in international logistics would play an important role for the success of the AfCFTA, adding that for port to deliver on this mandate, efficiency is a key factor in terms of quality of services and port cost.
Expressing concerns over maritime trade in Nigeria, Usman said maritime traffic is skewed in favour of imports because the country is increasingly import-dependent, adding that freight cost remain high due to trade imbalance, ports congestion and weak infrastructure.
In a bid to maximise the benefits of the AfCFTA, Usman said, the NPA was implementing Trade Single Window for the ports as well as simplification of port processes through automation and quality assurance for agricultural commodities for export to avoid rejection.
Dr. Lola Akande, the Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Sewedo Oluseyi Whenu, said the sensitisation was timely and apt to enlighten the stakeholders on importance of rules of origin and trade facilitation intervention in a single continental market.
Speaking on the fundamentals of export process, a trade expert with the AfCFTA-NAC, Mr. Olusegun Olutayo, stressed that success of the implementation of the AfCFTA would depend on proper administration of rules of origin by the Designated Competent Authority saddled by the Article 21 of the Agreement to issue a certificate of origin to approved exporters.