Wednesday 03 Jul 2019

Nigeria finally agrees to sign AfCFTA deal

One of Africa’s super powers, Nigeria has finally agreed to sign unto the continent’s largest free trade deal.

Initially only 44 African leaders out of 55 agreed to the world’s largest free trade area at a gathering in Rwanda in March 2018.

Countries like Nigeria and Uganda decided not to join asking for time to engage in broader consultations.

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari at the time defended his country’s decision not to sign the trade deal just yet despite participating in earlier discussions.

At the time Buhari said “that the Economic and security implications of Nigeria signing the #AfCFTA Agreement need to be FURTHER discussed. This is a far-reaching decision that requires the widest possible consultations amongst all stakeholders.”

On Tuesday the Nigerian Presidency said in a statement that “Nigeria will sign the #AfCFTA Agreement at the upcoming Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger.”

“Nigeria is signing the #AfCFTA Agreement after extensive domestic consultations, and is focused on taking advantage of ongoing negotiations to secure the necessary safeguards against smuggling, dumping and other risks/threats,” the statement added.

President Buhari was quoted by the statement as saying that “Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations. Economic progress is what makes the world go around. Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.”

African Union confirmation

The Commissioner for Trade and Industry African Union Commission confirmed the position of Nigeria in a statement.

Albert Muchanga said “Officially confirmed! #Nigeria to sign the #AfCFTA Agreement during Niger Extra-Ordinary Summit in few days. Good and important development. Two more to go and an All Africa Market will start shaping up.”

The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) with 55 African Union (AU) members would mean the African Union would have a cumulative gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion.

African countries only do about 16 per cent of their business with each other with the African Union hoping to change this trend.

The CFTA is a major project of the AU’s long-term development plan Agenda 2063, which emphasis the need to  ease trade and travel across the continent.

The latest deal could create thousands of jobs for the continent’s jobless youth.