Nigeria, 4 other countries decline to sign Continental Free Trade Agreement
Following last minute withdrawal of the Nigerian government from signing the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AFCFTA, four other African countries also refused to be part of that agreement signing which held on Wednesday in Kigali, Rwanda.
Sources close to the deal told BusinessDay that apart from Nigeria, the countries which pulled out of the deal include Sierra Leone,Guinea-Bisau,Burundi and Eritrea.
Also on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a committee comprising some Ministries, departments and agencies of government to interface with relevant stakeholders in the CFTA, days after aborting his Kigali trip for the deal.
The President also gave the committee two weeks within which to engage with the stakeholders and report back to the Federal Executive Council.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adelina disclosed thus shirk briefing Stars House Correspondents shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President
The Ministries include those of Labour and Employment, Finance, Science and Technology, Budget and National Planning and Foreign Affairs,
Agencies of government also incorporated into the Committee includes, Central Bank if Nigeria ( CBN) , Customs, Immigrations.
The President hinged his refusal to sign the agreement on what he described as harmful provisions that are detrimental to the interest of Nigerian entrepreneurs
According to Adelina, ” the Presence said he will not agree to anything that will hurt local entrepreneur”
He cited the provision of that was likely “to encourage dumping of goods on Nigerian soil”
President Buhari said he observed that unfortunately, some of the provisions contained in the agreement has the potential to create problems for Nigeria’s local entrepreneurs.
The President also cited security issues saying that ” the country was yet to understand the security implications of the agreement”
“A committee comprising soame ministries was set up to look into the proposal contained therein.
The committee was given two weeks within which to articulate all issues and report back to FEC”
BusinessDay gathered that in all, 44 countries signed the agreement, including Niger, Rwanda, Chad, Angola, CAR Comoros, Congo, Ghana, the Gambia, Gabon, Kenya and Mozambique.
Others include: Senegal, South Africa – decl Zimbabwe, Cote d’ivoire, Seychelles ,Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho – decl,Morocco, Swaziland and Tanzanian, Burkina Faso, DRC Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Sao Tome, Togo ,Malawi, Cameroon, Benin – decl, Zambia-decl, Namibia and Botswana
It was also learnt that there were some countries which signed, but committed to no free movement. They include Djibouti, Sahrawi Republic, Sudan
Mauritania, Algeria,Tunisia, Capre Verde, Lybia, Madagascar, Egypt, Mauritius, and Ethiopia.
The Intra-Africa trade deal is expected to raise by about 52.3 percent by 2020, according to estimates by United Nations Economic Commission in Africa.
Most analysts say Nigeria’s last minute pull out is a significant blow to the agreement.
It was also learnt that Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who was present at the African Union of Heads of states meeting where the AfCFTA took place expressed displeasure over Nigeria’s last minute withdrawal stating that,”I am surprised that any African leader at this point in time will be talking about either not understanding or see it as not very important to be here to support what we are signing. I see that as criminal.”
HARRISON EDEH, ABUJA
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