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Nigeria manufacturers reject Africa trade deal

AFRICAN HEADS OF STATES AND GOVERNMENTS DURING THE AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT FOR THE AGREEMENT TO ESTABLISH THE CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA IN KIGALI, RWANDA, ON MARCH 21, 2018. AFP PHOTO
AFRICAN HEADS OF STATES AND GOVERNMENTS DURING THE AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT FOR THE AGREEMENT TO ESTABLISH THE CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA IN KIGALI, RWANDA, ON MARCH 21, 2018. AFP PHOTO  

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has supported the country's refusal to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Some 44 countries signed the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday, creating the world's largest free market.

However, 3,000 Nigeria manufactures praised their country for backing out, saying the deal would lead to gross unemployment at home as most local companies would die "a quicker death’’.

MAN president Frank Jacobs said on Thursday the association would not support the Federal Government’s adoption and ratification of the agreement until issues of market access and enforcement of rules of origin were addressed.

According to MAN, the agitation from the private sector was a result of lack of inclusion of inputs of key stakeholders in the build-up to AfCFTA negotiation by Nigeria.

AfCTA is expected to create a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion.

The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to liberalise services.

Dr Jacobs said the market access that allows only 10 per cent of products to be protected as well as government’s enforcement of rules of origin needed to be clearly defined before local producers could support it.

The AfCFTA agreement was signed at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union, but Nigeria was absent.

President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled his trip to Kigali because of the issues raised by MAN.

As the signing was going on in Kigali, Africa’s leading industrialist Aliko Dangote and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates were meeting with President Buhari in Abuja.

They were due to address a special session of the National Economic Council (NEC) later on Thursday.

The special session underscores the Buhari administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) for inclusive growth and human development.

NEC is chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was also expected to deliver an address at the occasion.

The NEC membership comprises the 36 state governors, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other co-opted state officials.

The council was inaugurated by President Buhari on June 29, 2015.

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