The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has called for stakeholders efforts in addressing grey areas observed in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA].
Though, the Chamber noted that while some countries have commenced trading under the new trade protocol, Nigeria is yet to commence trading and as such it has become necessary to deliberate on how the country can expedite the implementation of the agreement across countries on the continent.
Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, President, LCCI, while speaking at an interactive session put together by the Chamber to discuss issues around the AfCFTA, informed participants that implementation of the agreement has commenced but some critical areas remain unaddressed.
The theme of the deliberation is ‘African Continental Free Trade Agreement: Roadmap to Successful Implementation’.
The event was part of the public engagement series of the Lagos Chamber and aimed at facilitating discussions among stakeholders on the appropriate policy steps that would ensure a speedy and effective implementation of the continental trade agreement.
Mabogunje said, “As you may be aware, the African Continental Free Trade Area came into effect on January 1, 2021. The trade treaty marks the biggest free trade area globally in terms of number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.”
She said, the trade agreement was borne out of the need to deepen economic integration on the continent considering the Africa’s low intra-regional trade volume in relation to other continents like America, Europe, and Asia.
The agreement sought to eliminate tariffs on 90 per cent of goods while also enabling micro, small, medium, and large businesses to penetrate new markets and establish strong cross-border supply chains with trade partners on the continent.
According to her, AfCFTA has the potential to accelerate socioeconomic development of the African continent, adding that a well-implemented AfCFTA will stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and facilitate the economic diversification of African economies.
Estimates by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) revealed that AfCFTA has the capacity to expand Africa’s manufacturing output to $930 billion by 2025, from $500 billion in 2016. The Brookings Institution see Africa’s economic size rising to $6.7 trillion by 2030 from $3.4 billion in 2019 on the back of a well-implemented AfCFTA.
However, Mabogunje, observed that while the take-off of AfCFTA should be lauded, much work remains to be done as critical parts of the agreement are yet to be finalized.
“Several Key issues including schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights have not been concluded.
There is still lack of clarity on the type of value addition that must occur within an AfCFTA State party for a product to benefit from tariff reduction.
A great deal of sensitization and enlightenment still need to be done on the implementation modalities, and this forms the basis for putting this event together.” she advised.