The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decried the Federal Government’s lethargic disposition toward signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), stressing that the country would be the largest beneficiary of market integration on the continent.
The Fund said the gains of joining the cartel far outweighs the fears currently being nursed by the country.
Director of African Department at IMF, Abebe Aemro Salessie, who spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, in Washington DC, told Daily Sun that given the size of the Nigerian economy and the strength of its entrepreneurs, it has no reason to fear competition under an AfCFTA regime.
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“From our perspective, we think that the AfCFTA will help the region integrate; it’s been the dream of our leaders dating back to independence days and we think that it’s a very important initiative. And beyond politics, it will have a positive impact economically on the continent,” he said.
Abebe noted that like all trade agreements and integration measures, there can be adverse effects which can be identified with policies introduced to address them.
“We have to look at the big picture. Coming to Nigeria specifically, we think that Nigeria will also benefit as the largest economy from joining the AfCTA and being a full participant of that. In my view, looking at how dynamic Nigeria is and looking at the business people you have, the wealth of talent and entrepreneurs that you have, I don’t think you have to fear anybody else in terms of competition.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on October 22, 2018, inaugurated a Presidential Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. But the final report of the committee is still being awaited, even though many argue that time was already running out for Nigeria with respect to the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA was launched in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018 with the aim of creating a single African market , free movement of persons and a common currency Union. Already 52 countries have signed the agreement, while 18 of them have ratified, although Nigeria remains one of the three African nations yet to endorse the scheme.
Since last year, negotiations have continued among the various nations with Phase II of the project including Competition Policy, Investment and Intellectual Property Rights. A draft shall be submitted for the January 2020 AU Assembly.