.Dr. Vincent Isegbe, Director General of NAQS(L) and Mr Francis Anatogu ,Secretary of NAC, AfCFTA (R) during a visit to NAQS on Tuesday
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is seeking the collaboration of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) and other relevant agencies in the implementation process of the trade agreement.
Mr Francis Anatogu, who is the Secretary of the National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA, made this known when he led officials of the secretariat on a courtesy visit to Dr Vincent Isegbe, the Director General of NAQS, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Anatogu, who is also the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector, said the visit was part of efforts to engage stakeholders in designing a roadmap for the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.
“It is no longer news that we have been clamouring for the diversification of our economy over the years.
“We have so much depended on oil for our survival, and anytime oil price sneezes, we seem to go into recession.
“As a committee, we are now working toward how we as a nation can properly utilise business doors being offered by AfCFTA.
“We are now at the point of developing a strategy and we want the support and collaboration of NAQS, so we can work toward getting Nigerian products to other parts of Africa,” he said.
Anatogu said that the NAC would also seek the support and partnership of NAFDAC, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service and other relevant regulatory agencies toward charting a common front.
He noted that the AfCFTA agreement also encouraged member states to specialise in the production of certain goods where they have a comparative advantage.
According to him, the NAC secretariat is in the process of setting up an online resource centre to enable Nigerians, especially various industry players to have access to useful trade information.
He said that the secretariat would establish an AfCFTA Desk in relevant agencies to facilitate information sharing.
“We need to sensitise our people and present to them the business opportunities being presented by AfCFTA,” he said.
Responding, the Director-General of NAQS, commended NAC team for the visit, and pledged his support and readiness to work with the secretariat.
Isegbe said his agency was willing to use its statutory functions toward ensuring that the full benefits of the trade agreement was reflected in national economy, especially in providing relevant certification for agricultural produce.
He said that his organisation was ready to appoint a focal person who would work closely with the NAC for proper information sharing.
Recall that, following the signing of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade in July 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed the constitution of a National Action Committee (NAC).
The mandate of the NAC is to coordinate relevant MDAs and stakeholder groups to implement the trade readiness interventions detailed in the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Report including projects, policies and programmes
The AfCFTA, with its secretariat in Accra, Ghana is a free trade area created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations.
The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
The agreement was brokered by the AU and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a Customs Union.
It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.