The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), says it is targeting stakeholders’ input in key priority service sectors for trade liberalisation to maximise benefits of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Acting Director-General, NOTN, Mr Victor Liman made this known in Abuja on Tuesday on the sidelines of its Joint Private and Public Sector Consultative Forum on Trade in Services.
It will be recalled that Nigeria signed the AfCFTA agreement in July 7, 2019 and African Union (AU) member states have fixed July 1, 2020 for the operationalisation of the agreement.
Liman, also the Acting Chief Trade Negotiator of NOTN said that at the continental level, the member states adopted and accepted to liberalise five key priority sectors in trade and services.
“Those five key priority sectors are Financial, Communication, Transport, Tourism, Business and Professional Services.
“There are 12 major sectors in trade and services but we have accepted to liberalise five at this time and progressively liberalise the remaining overtime among member states
He said in view of this, the NOTN earlier consulted different sectors, subsectors and harvested important critical contributions from all the stakeholders engaged during that process.
Liman said that it further organised the private and public sector consultative forum to analyse and adopt the draft schedules of specific commitments in the five priority service sectors for liberalisation.
According to him, the draft specific commitments will be used as a negotiating input into Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Regional Schedule of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services to the AfCFTA.
Liman said that the final outcome of the schedules of the specific commitments would be presented to the ECOWAS for harmonisation of trade and services for AfCFTA negotiations.
He said that engagement of critical stakeholders was relevant because trade was very crucial to the growth of economy hence it was important to ensure that stakeholders were aware of the negotiations.
According to him, the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement will not only benefit the Nigerian populace but impact on the economy and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He, however, said that Nigeria still needed to do more on competitiveness, infrastructure, productivity and security, a feat he said the Federal Government was committed to achieving.
He said that since the AfCFTA offered 1.2 billion population and market size, Nigeria as the largest market in the continent needed to take full advantage of pact.
NAN reports that the main objective of AfCFTA is to create continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital.
It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.