The FG has warned that as Africa prepares for the Continental Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in 2021, any form of abuse that could undermine the borders of respective countries and affect the markets could be a recipe for strained trade relations.
President Buhari stated this in his address at the 13thextraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of States and Government held recently in Ethiopia.
Represented by the ministry of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, President Buhari stressed that abuse of trade rules could also cause disorder, regional and geopolitical tensions and reduced economic growth.
He said: “It is, however, pertinent to remind us of the need to defend and preserve agreed rules we are putting in place to ensure that there is no breakdown or abuse of the rules-based continental free trade framework. We must therefore work assiduously to encourage probity, transparency and promote a shared and inclusive prosperity for all Africans.
“Nigeria is keenly aware of her role in deepening intra-Africa trade and making it a success. We remain open to transparent work with our brothers and sisters across Africa, in spite of cooperation to deepen continental integration through the free movement of goods, natural and legal persons across the continent”.
“The successful commencement of trade in January 2021 is indeed the fulfillment of the collective dreams of our founding fathers, for a better, united, peaceful and prosperous Africa. Let us therefore keep in mind that any form of abuse of the rules that undermine our borders and affect our markets could be a recipe for strained trade relations, disorder, regional and geopolitical tensions and reduced economic growth”.
“Trade rules require trust and constant updates. We must continue to work to address and close noticeable gaps, in particular the challenges occasioned by ravages of covid-19 pandemic and other critical issues affecting the continent. AfCFTA is a rules-based system that provides governance structure for the intra-Africa trade, including for settlement of trade disputes and smooth operationalisation of the agreement. In this regard, we are further assured that this mechanism will provide the essential balance previously lacking in our trade relations”.
The President said that this agreement is strategic and relevant to the establishment of an economic and legal framework for intra-Africa trade relations and further serve as a platform for deepening Africa’s integration into the global economy.
“On this note, we are optimistic that opportunities abound within the AfCTA framework for the engagement of businesses that would foster and facilitate trade, as well as investment flows and the growth of regional and global value chains. It is important that the launch of trade in 2021 produces a win-win situation and shared prosperity for all member states”.
“In consideration of them foregoing, Nigeria is taking all necessary steps to be fully prepared for the effective start of trading on 1stJanuary 2021. “We must remain focused to ensure we do not derail in our quest for Africa’s integration”, he added.
Business Day, 07 December 2020
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