New Telegraph

Controversy trails Nigeria’s absence from AfCFTA trading

…as other countries’ products flood local markets

Indications have emerged that some African countries operating under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement have commenced trading under the new trade protocol with Nigeria missing out in the league. With Nigeria’s slow approach to the continental treaty, findings are showing that some products from some African countries are already making their way into Nigerian markets. Specifically, New Telegraph reliably gathered that some batteries manufactured in Kenya and other products are already flooding different markets in the country, while sources in the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) also hinted that some countries in the continent, mostly neighbouring countries with Nigeria such as Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and others have started trading with one another since July 25, this year.

Precisely, the take-off of Af- CFTA in the continent has seen some countries commencing trading under the new trade protocol, while others, including Nigeria, are yet to commence trading. Findingsfrom MAN Secretariat revealed that members were not happy over the delay by the Federal Government in taking a decision on AfCFTA, as they have been waiting patiently to officially join in trading like Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and others are already doing.

Meanwhile, a source from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment told our correspondent that the report over the take-off of AfCFTA trading without Nigeria’s involvement could not be true as concluded negotiations on the rule of origin are not yet finalised. But some Nigerian exporters in MANEG hinted that some goods, like the Kenyan batteries were already being exported into Nigeria, while trading has fully commenced in among Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and others. In particular, a former executive of MANEG and a registered member of the association, Mr. Gabriel Ekpo, told our correspondent in Lagos that Kenyan battery makers were finding their way into the Nigerian markets without the current government tak-ing decisive step on the matter. Ekpo explained: “AfCFTA trading has started in the continent.

The committee guiding trading in AfCFTA started trading under the new trade protocol on July 25 in seven nations in Africa. “But where is Nigeria? It is amazing that our neighbours, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and co, have started trading. “Kenyan batteries just arrived Lagos a few weeks ago. So, why are we not starting? and when is Nigeria going to start AfCFTA?” However, New Telegraph gathered that a clearer picture on Af- CFTA was expected to be known during this month’s African Union (AU) Heads of State meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

During the meeting, issues surrounding market size, economic size, diversity, supply chain opportunities, foreign exchange, trade policy, Customs, tariffs difference, schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights and others will be sorted out and addressed amicably for the continental trade agreement to be a success. While speaking on the matter in a chat in Lagos, the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Richard Adebayo, cleared the air, insisting that negotiations on rule of origin were yet to be concluded, stressing that AfCFTA trading in the continent could not effectively start without Nigeria’s fully participating. The minister said: “We haven’t concluded negotiations on rule of origin on AfCFTA, so trading cannot start. A meeting of Ministers of Industry and Trade and senior trade associations was held in Ghana recently, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go because I was a little bit indisposed and when my representative returned from the meeting, it was the same question I asked him, if what am hearing that AfCFTA trading has started on the continent of Africa without Nigeria? “But the truth is that if Af- CFTA trading has started on the continent, Nigeria should be at the forefront of this. But there will be a meeting of African Union Heads of State in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this month.” Nigeria has already inaugurated the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with some eminent Nigerians as “AfCFTA Champions” to mobilise technical and financial resources towards implementing the country’s share benefits in the continental free trade area. Speaking to New Telegraph, a top official in MAN, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on behalf of the association, said many firms were worried and also being apprehensive about their investments over AfCFTA delays amid the implementation of tariffs, HS codes and others that will enable them import raw materials at zero rates for production within the continent. Already, the Federal Government has said that it will take some time for Nigeria to be fully ready for AfCFTA as the country is not yet prepared to replace 85 per cent of Nigeria’s export revenue.

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