The African Union (AU) has listed the benefits of the African Continent Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) to Nigeria and urged the federal government to sign it.
AU specifically appealed to the federal government to take advantage of its population and sign the pact because it would open several development opportunities and widen the market for the country’s private sector operators.
During a visit of AU delegation on African trade policies to the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), on Thursday, the continental body’s regional trade adviser, Jean Bertand Azapmo, said that the Nigerian government and indeed the private sector would reap a lot of economic benefits from AFCFTA.
Azapmo said that Nigeria has 200 million people, which is a sizeable market compared to the AFCFTA market of 1.2 billion consumers, which is projected to hit 1.7 billion by 2030, as the largest market in the world.
He said that in terms of goods and services, the Nigerian private sector has a lot to benefit from AFCFTA and contribute to the country’s economic growth.
Earlier, ACCI president, Mr Adetokunbo Kayode, assured the AU that Nigeria would sign the agreement. He said that the ACCI, the federal government and the organised private sector in Nigeria were committed to the promotion of intra-African trade.
“It is a notorious fact that Nigeria has not yet signed the AFCFTA, but I want to assure you that we will sign it. I want to send this message to all our African brothers that Nigeria stands by the free trade agreement and we are ready to work with our colleagues, trade with our brothers and to also collaborate and partner with all African companies”, Kayode said.
He, however, urged the AU to rethink the issue of funding of Small Scale and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), stressing that “Africa is a continent of SMEs; we must change our approach to funding for SMEs. Our commercial banks will never fund our SMEs. So, I want to use this platform to plead with AU to support the rethink of the mechanism for funding small enterprises.”
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