Says Abuse of Rules to Cause Regional, Geopolitical Tensions
Following the need to defend and preserve the agreed rules in place to ensure that there is no breakdown or abuse of the rules of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, Nigeria has urged the other African countries to work assiduously to encourage probity, transparency and promote a shared and inclusive prosperity for all Africans.
Nigeria also pledged to remain open to transparent work with other countries across Africa, in the spirit of cooperation to deepen continental integration through the free movement of goods, natural and legal persons across the continent.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, who made this known at the 13th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government, added that Nigeria is keenly aware of her role in deepening intra-Africa trade and making it a success.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the online summit held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said, “We must remain strident and committed in our support for the instrument while timeously addressing actions that could lead to breakdown of the rules-based African Continental Free Trade Area.
“The successful commencement of trade in January 2021 is indeed the fulfillment of the collective dreams of our founding fathers, for a better, united, peaceful and prosperous Africa. Let us therefore keep in mind that any form of abuse of the rules that undermine our borders and affect our markets could be a recipe for strained trade relations, disorder, regional and geopolitical tensions and reduced economic growth”.
While noting that the trade rules require trust and constant updates, he stated that the member countries must continue to work to address and close noticeable gaps, in particular the challenges occasioned by ravages of COVID-19 pandemic and other critical issues affecting the continent.
“AFCTA is a rules-based system that provides governance structure for the intra-Africa trade, including for settlement of trade disputes and smooth operationalization of the Agreement. In this regard, we are further assured that this mechanism will provide the essential balance previously lacking in our trade relations.
“Importantly, this agreement is strategic and relevant to the establishment of an economic and legal framework for intra-Africa trade relations and further serves as a platform for deepening Africa’s integration into the global economy”, he said.
He further stated that Nigeria is optimistic that opportunities abound within the AfCFTA framework for the engagement of businesses that would foster and facilitate trade, as well as investment flows and the growth of regional and global value chains.
The President who emphasized that it is important that the launch of trade in 2021 produces a win-win situation and shared prosperity for all member states, added that Nigeria is taking all the necessary steps to be fully prepared for the effective start of trading on 1st January 2021
“We must remain focused to ensure we do not derail in our quest for Africa’s integration”, he ended.