The Federal Government on Friday inaugurated the newly appointed Director-General of the Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), Amb. Yonov Agah.
Agah was appointed as the D-G/ Chief Trade Negotiator, NOTN in March 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, while inaugurating the new Director-General in Abuja, urged him to make a positive impact on the NOTN, the ministry and the nation.
Adebayo also charged Agah to work with critical stakeholders in respect of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as the second phase of its negotiations.
“The activities of NOTN do not stop at trade negotiations. It is expected to pay attention to developments regionally and globally, given the evolving global economic landscape, in order to factor these dynamics into trade negotiations.
“International trade is very important in the expansion of the economy of a country because it allows for the development of markets, creates employment, thereby reducing the rate of poverty,’’ Adebayo said.
The minister, however, advised Agah to take NOTN to a greater height, adding that it was his previous achievements that made President Muhammadu Buhari to approve his appointment as NOTN D-G.
In a remark, Amb. Miriam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, recalled that the Federal Executive Council in May 2017 approved NOTN as the standing negotiating body for Nigeria.
“This mandate provides inter alia, that all reports and recommendations from NOTN on trade policy are reviewed by the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) based on memoranda submitted by the Minister for decision making by FEC,’’ she noted.
Katagum, while congratulating Agah, urged him to see the appointment as a clarion call to duty to serve, adding that he was expected to provide good and focused leadership to achieve its mandate.
“I believe that your wealth of experience and exposure, as a former Nigerian Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Deputy Director-General, will be of immense benefit to your present appointment.
“As you are aware, interacting, negotiating and liaising with institutions, public and private stakeholders at all levels, is of paramount importance in your new engagement,’’ she said.
Responding, the new NOTN D-G and Chief Trade Negotiator expressed gratitude for yet another opportunity to serve the country and offered assurance of commitment to result-oriented hard work for public good.
“In particular, I will prefer my action and concrete output to speak for me. I note that there is a lot to be done at the NOTN,’’ the Chief Trade Negotiator stated.
On this note, the ambassador said he would immediately put in place a multi-task teams to progressively deliver on the core mandates, particularly developing Nigerian templates for AfCFTA.
“We will also develop templates for mutual recognition arrangements, if we do not have these arrangements in place, Nigeria will not benefit from the AfCFTA and international trade outcome,’’ he noted.
The outgoing Acting Director-General of NOTN, Mr Victor Liman, has also been appointed to head the Chinghai China Nigeria Trade Office.
Liman, who reaffirmed his commitment to work towards national development, promised to cooperate and assist the new D-G and expressed gratitude for the ministry’s support during his tenure.
The new NOTN D-G who served as WTO’s Deputy Director-General representing Africa is one of foremost ranking Nigerians in international trade and WTO issues.
He served as Nigerian Ambassador to the WTO from 2005 to 2013. He also served as alternate Chief Negotiator for the Doha Round, as well as Head of Nigeria’s Trade Office to the WTO.