The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has stressed the benefits of the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will generate If successfully implemented.
The agreement which is believed will increase intra-African trade by as much as $35 billion per year or 52% above the baseline by 2022 was adopted by Summit in March, 2018 following the deposit of the required 22 ratifications and came into effect on 30th May, 2019.
Speaking at a conference organized by the Journal Of Freight and Energy on Maximising Benefits of Intra-African Trade Under AfCFTA Regime in Lagos on Friday, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Barr. Hassan Bello disclosed that Nigeria and Benin signed the Agreement during the July 2019 summit in Money, Niger. As at 25th September, 2019, all countries except Eritrea have signed the Agreement
The executive secretary who was ably represented by James Chabulatuda , Operations Officers, Consumer Affairs, of the Council, added that the Agreement would have the consequence of imports from outside the continent and will decrease by $10 billion per year, whereas agricultural and industrial exports would increase by $4 billion and $21 billion above the baseline.
He added that the AfCFTA would boost small and medium sized enterprises by 80% in Africa’s growth by using regional markets as stepping stones for expanding into overseas markets outside Africa.
The Council boss stated that Nigeria with population of 200 million, seventh largest in the World, 3rd largest youth population in the World, 20th world largest economy and strong services, it will create job opportunities for the people as well as opportunities for investment.
Bello maintained that the main objectives of the Agreement include; expansion intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade within continent.
Enhancement of competitiveness at the enterprise level to support economic transformation, exploitation of economic of scale to take advantage of continental market access.
Others are: adding values to Africa’s natural resource; developing regional value chains and attracting investments into Africa.
Earlier, the convener of the conference, Ismail Aniemu expressed shock at why the maritime sector is not been talking about the Agreement as one of the sectors at the forefront of business in Nigeria and Africa.
He added that people express fear that Nigeria will be turned into a dumping ground by smaller countries.
He explained that such fear has no place because one cannot say a country cannot be said to be a dumping ground for a good it is not producing.
He therefore said that this programme was initiated to sensitise people especially maritime stakeholders on the importance of the Agreement as well as well as larger picture of the Agreement.