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MAN urges FG to appoint new national chief negotiator for AfCFTA

Manufacturers warn of looming recession

THE Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to appoint a new national chief negotiator in the ongoing African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) with other African countries.

The President of MAN, Dr Frank Jacobs, gave the advice at a news conference in Lagos, tagged: “MAN’s position on AfCFTA”.He said the negotiator would be saddled with the responsibility of negotiating specifically for Nigeria.

He said the call became necessary because the current Chief Negotiator doubled as Chairman of AU-AfCFTA Negotiation Committee.“We are worried that the Director General of Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Chief Negotiator’ doubles as Chairman of AU-AfCFTA Negotiation Committee and may balance allegiance to both Nigeria and the AU-AfCFTA Negotiation Committee.

“AfCFTA is a good project that will benefit Nigeria if properly negotiated; as it would expand market access for export of Nigerian products and improve the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector,” he said.Besides, he said there was the need to study the impact of the agreement on the nation’s manufacturing sector.According to him, the study should be centered on a defensive national economic and industrial priority, especially on the nation’s manufacturing sector.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AfCFTA is a trade agreement between 44 African Union member states, with the goal of creating a single market for goods and services.It also includes free movement of persons and a single currency union. The AfCFTA was signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21.

A draft of the agreement is expected to be submitted at the January 2020 AU Assembly.The AfCFTA agreement is expected to increase intra African trade by 52 per cent by 2022 and bring a total of 55 states together in a free trade area across the continent.

Jacob said the government should ensure it carries out an assessment of each stage of the protocol at the regional, national and continental levels.“The nation has too much to lose should an agreement still shrouded in uncertainty, not informed by any study and not based on negotiated position at the domestic level be taken up.

“Right from the Kigali Summit and up until now, the content of the Nigerian offer has remained unknown to manufacturers who are the number one stakeholders to be positively and or negatively impacted by the proposition.“We also observed that key economic ministry departments and established structures remained largely sidelined during the process.

“Nigeria cannot afford to agree to such a short period for the implementation of the Market Access without negotiating the Rules of Origin.“The assessment will ensure that the emergent AfCFTA properly aligns with Africa’s structural economic transformation,” he said.

Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadri, Director General, MAN, added that should the government fail to put proper measures in place, policies of the government (monetary and fiscal policies) might be rendered ineffective. (NAN)

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