The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) urged stakeholders in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to finalize key parts of the agreement for the benefit of member states.
Ms. Toki Mabogunje, President of LCCI, said this at the 37th Omolayole Management Conference on âAfrican Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – Perspectives for African Youth Leadershipâ, Thursday in Lagos .
The Omolayole Management Lecture Series (OML) is an annual activity of AIESEC Alumni Nigeria in honor of Dr Michael Omolayole to address contemporary socio-economic issues of national and international concern.
Mabogunje noted that several key issues, including schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitments, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights, were inconclusive. .
She said there was still a lack of clarity on what kind of added value must occur in a AfCFTA state party for a product to benefit from a tariff reduction.
Mabogunje said there were ongoing negotiations at the continental level delaying the implementation of the trade deal.
âThere are also concerns about the adherence of participating countries to the protocols under the AfCFTA.
âAfrica’s trade rhetoric has been challenged by trade malfeasance such as smuggling, unilateralism and violation of trade protocols.
“” In the context of developing countries, economic integration creates a risk of trade diversion in which trade shifts from a low-cost producer outside the continent to a higher-cost producer on the African continent.
âThe weakness of Africa’s legal and institutional framework is yet another source of concern.
âWe need to advocate for a well-structured implementation of the agreement that would easily welcome young entrepreneurs, startups and young leaders from all walks of life in Africa,â she said. The Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BoI), Mr. Olukayode Pitan, stressed the need to address the risks to achieve the expected gains of a free trade area.
Pitan also noted the need to increase infrastructure investment in Nigeria, saying one way to achieve this was through public-private partnerships (PPP) which should be greatly leveraged to build sustainable infrastructure.
This, he said, would be possible across the country, while the government provides a favorable governance framework. was still very limited.
âImproving transparency and the ease of doing business in Nigeria has a bigger implication now that AfCFTA has taken off.
âThis would allow foreign investors to make informed decisions on the location of their manufacturing centers in African countries, which will provide them with more advantages.
“Because there are no restrictions on the movement of goods across borders, the need to establish a business in a country where it is easier to operate will now be a more desirable factor than existence. market prospects, âhe said.
Dr Michael Omolayole, First Indigenous President of Unilever Nigeria Plc, said AFCFTA’s provisions, if sincerely implemented by African countries, would likely propel them from third world countries to the first world.
âOn our side, as Nigerians, I think we were too careful in hesitating to ratify the treaty until the last moment.
âWe could have avoided the hesitation, if we had set up a think tank of bright and savvy Nigerians on economics and free trade, from the start of the African Union (AU) deliberation on the subject.
“It is better late than never, but think tanks can still be set up and our bright young people with the requisite knowledge should be encouraged to dissect and digest the treaty and set up study groups to master the treated from top to bottom, “he said. .