Airline operators reject AU’s free trade area treaty
The Airline Operators of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to reconsider its decision towards the planned signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Treaty, (AfCFTA)
The treaty which is expected to facilitate a single market of more than one billion people from the 54 member states of the African Union, is scheduled for signing by African Heads of States in Kigali, Rwanda between March 21st and 22nd.
Nogie Meggison, AON Chairman, who spoke on behalf of domestic airlines said the AfCFTA, coming on the heels of the recently signed Single African Air Transport Market in January, had the potential of impacting the Nigerian economy negatively.
Meggison said the country was not ready to handle the level of unfair competition that the full implementation of SAATM or the signing of AfCFTA would bring upon the country and both treaties would be counter-productive.
He noted that those pushing for the SAATM/AfCFTA programme were targeting Nigeria’s large population, economy and the young population who travel extensively around the world, to the detriment of the country.
He said, “A full implementation at this time will mean loss of jobs for our youth and a mortgaging of our beloved children’s future. Although the AU 2063 Agenda for a Single African market is laudable, government needs to pause and come up with a clear policy on how we can maximise the potential.
“In the light of our concerns, we hereby call on government to take a second look into the SAATM/AfCFTA Treaty by considering immediate consultations with the Nigerian community of entrepreneurs and experts on trade policies to review the SAATM/AfCFTA impact on the Nigerian economy and find a way forward that will take into consideration the interests of Nigerian businesses in order for them to benefit significantly.
He explained that there is also an urgent need for government to immediately conduct an impact assessment on the domestic business environment while national interest must be given priority and protected at all levels in the implementation of SAATM/AfCFTA by putting Nigeria and its youths first.
According to the AON president, about 80 per cent of the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product is generated from the private sector. To this end airlines, manufacturers and other businesses provide critical socio-economic services to the Nigerian economy and should not be treated as secondary subjects in the implementation of decisions which directly affect their operations and has the potential of strangling them out of existence without due consultations.
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