Nigeria, being the largest market in Africa, would likely lose most to the implementation of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
This is according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke at the weekend.
Despite its decision not to ratify the agreement, Osinbajo noted that the federal government was currently pursuing a rigorous domestic and wide consultative process with all stakeholders in the public and private sector on the said regional agreement.
He made the remarks in Lagos at the weekend during the Africa Trade Forum 2018: AfCFTA Ratification and Implementation under a theme, “A Game Changer for African Economies.”
Speaking at the forum, Osinbajo said AfCFTA “is probably the most significant Pan African trade agreement in this generation. Nigeria, being possibly the largest market in Africa today, is most likely to benefit the most or lose the most from the implementation of the agreement.”
According to the vice president, this is because it recognises the benefits of promoting intra-African trade for development, job creation, poverty reduction and modernisation.
In response to the nation-wide stakeholder engagement on October 22, Osinbajo said President Muhammad Buhari at a meeting with stakeholders, inaugurated and established the “Presidential Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment on the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
He added that the Presidential Committee “is now at work, in full steam, and a final report will be sent up to Mr. President in 10 weeks. I believe that most African policy-makers would accept these feedbacks from Nigeria as having wider validity, especially as having some validity with their own economy as well.
“At the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on AfCFTA last week, President Buhari emphasized, while commending the AfCFTA process, as worthy and commendable, he said that the agreements we negotiate should be properly understood by those that would implement them, and be accompanied with an implementation plan.
“As the President said, AfCFTA is worthy and commendable. As a Government, we consider that structural reforms should address the legitimate concerns raised by stakeholders.
“As Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Management Team (EMT), I am pleased to read and hear that fellow African countries consider Nigeria’s domestic consultative process with stakeholders as an applicable model. We engaged, constructively and robustly, with stakeholders, not only on the AfCFTA, but also on Trade Policy Writ Large.
“The central message was support for the AfCFTA, based on a clear definition of increasing intra-African trade. The core feedback is to prepare thoroughly and, inter alia, ensure that the preferences of the AfCFTA would neither be abused nor be enjoyed by third parties that were not part of the negotiations,” Osinbajo explained.