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Why FG should sign African Free Trade Agreement – Chamber

Representatives of African Countries at a meeting in Kigali to further discuss the African Free Trade Agreement
Representatives of African Countries at a meeting in Kigali to further discuss the African Free Trade Agreement

By Franca Ofili

Mr Emeka Okereke, Director General, Enugu  Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), has called on the Federal Government to reconsider the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Okereke said this in Abuja when the chamber officials visited the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The visit was to create publicity for the forthcoming 30th Enugu International Trade Fair.

The Fair is slated to hold between April 5 and 15 with the theme: “Promoting and Enhancing Value in Addition in the Oil and Non-Oil Sector for Robust Economic Growth And Development.’’

He said that the agreement was meant for free enterprise and building block economy.

According to him, many African countries have signed the agreement and so such can discourage bringing goods through the illegal ways.

AfCFTA was adopted on March 21, 2018 to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of goods and ensure block African economy.

Okereke said that the country had even signed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

He said that the ETLS was established  to encourage entrepreneurship development in the region and increase intra-regional trade and boost economic activity.

Okereke added that the  ETLS and Free Movement Protocol are the most promising tolls for enhancing regional integration in West Africa.

” For AfCFTA, Nigeria consciousness is good but we cannot run away from reality; we cannot be an island on to ourselves, even in ECOWAS, we have signed for free movement of goods, persons and services.

” I tell you those goods can still come into our country except we are not obeying the ECOWAS protocol we  have signed into,”  he said.

Okereke said that challenge was that the country has an open border, adding that even if the country did not sign, the goods would still come into the country through the back door.

He said that the agreement would  create a single market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments across 55 countries.

According to him, the government should try and develop the country’s infrastructure as the main challenge for manufacturers is the high cost of doing business.

He also urged the government to address the multiplicity of taxes and levies.

He complained that most companies left the country due to cost of doing business.

” The government needs to address issues affecting the business environment in order to boost the country’s economy.”

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