By Gift Samuel,The Sight News
A Nigerian, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe has been elected as the Chairman of the Negotiating Forum for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) for Africa.
This puts Nigeria at the forefront of the negotiations, where it is expected to show leadership and work with the Bureau to drive the CFTA to conclusion.
Osakwe was elected Chairman of the 54-member Negotiating Forum in Niamey, Niger, on June 5th, during the 6th cycle of the negotiations for the CFTA.
Other members of the Bureau are: First Vice Chairman (Swaziland); Second Vice Chairman (Ethiopia); Third Vice Chairman (Chad); and Rapporteur (Algeria)
Reacting to his election, Osakwe said: “We have a duty to deliver on an integrated market for goods and services in Africa and, as a consequence, generate a radical boost for intra-African trade
“The responsibility we have is a major challenge and at the same time a unique opportunity to contribute to growth, job creation and poverty reduction in Africa. Concluding the CFTA is also of necessity, for improving intra-African trade as part of a broader response to a global economy in rapid and uncertain change. Nigeria is grateful for this honor to serve and lead”the seasoned negotiator and diplomat added.
The African Union (AU) has set a deadline of December 2017 for the adoption of the CFTA. Nevertheless, it is believed that adoption would depend on how much progress is made by the end of the year.
When concluded, the CFTA will enhance the movement of goods and services, boost trade facilitation and support the Presidential Initiative on the Ease of Doing Business within the 54-member block of the continent.
Osakwe is currently the Trade Adviser to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Chief Negotiator for Nigeria. He provides technical advice on trade policy and structural reforms to the Economic Management Team (EMT).
He has published widely and lectured globally on trade policy, growth and development. The thematic focus in his writings revolves around the critical importance for rapid growth of structural reforms, competition law and policy, the market economy, good governance and the rule of law.