By Gift Samuel
The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has launched a National Committee for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah who inaugurated the committee on Thursday, said the inauguration is intended to reinforce the process for national economic recovery and development, across all areas, adding that it is auspicious and timely.
Also, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) will from henceforth, be part of the Nigerian negotiating team for the CFTA, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the Minister; “We need to grow and modernize the Nigerian economy through African trade integration. This would require focus, discipline, organization, determination and the exercise of that famous entrepreneurial spirit for which Nigerians are renowned the world-over”.
Speaking to the members of the committee, the Minister stated: “it is my singular honour and privilege, on behalf of H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to inaugurate this National Committee for CFTA. I wish you all the start of hard technical and policy work, to use the CFTA Negotiations to diversify, modernize, drive growth and create jobs in the Nigerian economy”.
Nigeria’s goal with the CFTA is to create win-win partnerships that will drive inward investment; support Nigerian exporters of goods and services to secure expanded market access in other African economies; and create jobs for Nigerians.
Committee members are drawn from Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Office of the Vice President; Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Nigeria Customs Service; Nigeria Immigration Service; Central Bank of Nigeria; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
Others are, National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; NESG; Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission; National Bureau of Statistics; National Association of Nigerian Traders; Nigeria Export Promotion Council; National Coalition of Service Industry; National Association of Small Scale Industries; Representatives of Academia; and Representatives of Digital Economy (Jumia, Iroko and Andela).
The Terms of Reference are: to serve and advise government, as the national multi-stakeholder technical platform on the CFTA Negotiations, across all the negotiating areas, including, but not limited to goods, services, investment, competition and intellectual property;
Also, to monitor the negotiations and undertake analysis to ensure that the negotiations and emerging results approximate the goals for the negotiations established by the Government; identify the opportunities and challenges facing the country in trade with other African countries, both intra and Inter-Regional Economic Communities (REC); and, participate in the negotiations, as appropriate.
At their summit in 2012, African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government decided to establish a Continental Free Trade Area, as part of a plan to industrialize the Continent by 2063 as well as boost Intra-Africa trade, currently, at only 19%.