The Organised Private Sector (OPS) including stakeholders in the maritime industry have said Nigeria needs to be competitive enough to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Speaking with our correspondent the Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Mr. Segun Ajayi Kadiri, said for the country to benefit from the free trade agreement, there is need to be competitive.
He noted that although AfCFTA started about a month ago, the government must ensure all that it takes for Nigeria to benefit from the agreement.
“It started about a month ago and to the best of my knowledge, some of the terms and protocol are being negotiated, I am not sure that African countries have been benefitting and Nigeria is lacking behind. Generally, the processes are being put in place, protocols are still being negotiated, including the authorities, as a matter of fact, I am not aware that other African countries have gone ahead and Nigeria is lacking behind
However, for Nigeria to benefit from the continental free trade we have to be competitive and to trade our goods in the continental realm, so those challenges that manufacturers face are those ones that constrain supply side, that limit our competitiveness, that’s where we are going to have goods from other countries that are more competitive than our own, and ours finding it difficult to penetrate other countries’ markets, those are the common challenges we are dealing with, which we are well aware of
Also speaking, the Director General Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Dr. Muda Yusuf stated that though AfCTA is primed to improve trade among African countries and provide an opportunity for Nigeria to export to other African countries, he also maintained that there is need for the country to remain competitive as the economic hub of Africa.
While stating that it was also critical to ensure that there is effective enforcement of the Rules of Origin, he noted that the institutions and policies of the government must align with driving a competitive economy for Nigeria.
“AfCFTA is primed to improve trade among African countries and provide an opportunity for Nigeria to export to other African countries, but we must understand that there is need for the country to remain competitive as the economic hub of Africa.
“Our infrastructural deficit must be worked on; government must also align with driving a competitive economy for Nigeria that way we can benefit from the free trade agreement”
Also speaking, a ship owner and former President Nigeria Indigenous Ship Owners Association (NISA) Mr. Aminu Umar noted that there are lots of things to be put in place in other for Nigeria to benefit from the AfCFTA.
“There are lot of things to be put in place in other for us to cease the opportunity and the main purpose of African trade is to boost intra-African trade, and I think in other for us to boost intra- African trade, there are policies, processes as well as procedures that need to be put in place in Nigeria, in other for us to encourage Nigerians to seize that opportunity of partnering and doing business within African.
“I believe is either some of those policies are not there or they are there but not implemented or applied properly, there is also need to look at the cost of doing business in Nigeria particularly”
“Also viewing from the maritime angle, what are the things that are not making us competitive compared to other African nation, for us is the cost of doing business which means our taxation here does not put us in a competitive condition, cost of finance or cost of raising capital is highly expensive compared to other African countries that enjoy less cost of finance and more. These are things the government needs to look into, to be able to seize this opportunity of free African or inter- African trade where we can exchange and compete favorably” he said.
Speaking also, the President Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite said Nigeria has no benefit to derive from the AfCFTA, stressing that Nigeria is not prepared for the free trade agreement, he raised alarm that Nigeria may end up being a dumping ground
“I see no benefit Nigeria could derive from that, she is actually not prepared for it, if we look at the prospect within Nigeria itself, are they things to write about, what are we producing in Nigeria? I see no benefit Nigeria will derived from AfCFTA.
“I did a press release about a month ago that Nigerians are not ready for this, the port operation is in shambles. We have been struggling about the gridlock for how many years, Nigeria will end up being dumping ground. How many people is aware of MANCAP of Nigeria, we talk about SONCAP because Nigeria is an import denominated country, the MANCAP is the last certificate of product or goods being produced within the country, is it the insecurity that will make Nigeria benefit or you think the investors are not weakened about the security system, is it the government policies that will encourage the local manufacturers? ” he said.