Nigeria’s steering committee on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Impact and Readiness Assessment will present its recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2019, official said.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu made the announcement in a statement in Abuja, noting that Nigeria had not yet signed the AfCFTA agreement, which seeks to remove all restrictions to trade and investment within Africa.
Mr Shehu, however, said that Nigeria had launched a nationwide consultation to accommodate a wide range of views on the technical instrument.
President Buhari had on October 22 inaugurated the committee to assess Nigeria's readiness to join the agreement.
The committee, which was given 12 weeks to conclude its assignment, has held consultations with stakeholders, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
Shed more light
According to Mr Shehu, while opinion was still divided on Nigeria joining AfCFTA, the committee had commissioned a study to shed more light on the public debate in the aftermath of a recent report by MAN.
The report by MAN, among others, noted that “if Nigeria ratifies the agreement, import surges will range from 27.6 per cent for textile, apparel and footwear sub-sector to 180.7 per cent for chemical and pharmaceutical products during the 3 phases of liberalising tariff lines with 5 per cent tariff rates’’.
According to MAN, in contrast, the import surge would be as high as over 2000 per cent in motor vehicle assembly sub-sector over 15 years, when 10 percent tariff rates are liberalised.
“This will instantly spell doom for the automotive aspect of Nigeria’s National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP),’’ the report further indicated.
The MAN study also showed differing output, employment and investment effects across manufacturing sub-sectors.
The presidential aide also noted that the key message from the MAN was that despite challenges, Nigeria should go ahead and sign the AfCFTA agreement with an informed mindset.
He said the study advised that Nigeria should engage in negotiations, embed itself in the process and ensure that “the AfCFTA delivers good results for its manufacturers, especially as it relates to taking benefits of the market access opportunities on the rest of the continent.’’
AfCFTA is designed to create a single market for goods and services.
It also aims to liberalise and facilitate the movement of investment and business people across the continent.
On March 21, 2018, 44 of the 55 African countries signed the AfCFTA agreement in Kigali, Rwanda.
So far, 49 countries have already signed the AfCFTA agreement and 13 others have already ratified it.
The agreement will become binding and implementation can begin once 22 states have ratified it.