By Miriam Humbe
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo has expressed the federal government’s willingness to ensure the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) signed by President Buhari in Niamey, Niger in July, 2019.
Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo revealed this in a Keynote Address at the 2019 Annual Directors ’Conference of the Institute of Directors of Nigeria (IODs) with the theme “The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) held in Abuja.
Optimistic that the effective implementation of AfCFTA would require a collective responsibility, Adebayo said: “I am glad to see many stakeholders from the entire spectrum of professional business services. Together, we all have the collective responsibility to give effective implementation to the AfCFTA. Implementing the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area is our collective responsibility”.
Represented by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum m Adebayo recalled that President Buhari had earlier approved the establishment of a National Action Committee (NAC) which would comprise representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies with competent and relevant jurisdiction and selected stakeholder groups from the private sector and civil society to coordinate the implementation of all the AfCFTA readiness initiatives.
He added that NAC would also undertake a process of engagements with stakeholders to sensitize them on the opportunities and challenges of the AfCFTA with preparedness plans for the Nigerian economy.
He stated “However, some have raised legitimate concerns about the risk of transshipment and dumping of goods, which may hurt domestic businesses, especially infant industries thereby thwarting our domestic industries and any efforts at import substitution.
“Secondly, our chronic infrastructure deficit, especially in the area of power, was also cited to underscore our lack of competitiveness, particularly for our industries. On this note, let me reassure you that the AfCFTA Agreement already has provisions to address these concerns. The real issues are not with the AfCFTA Agreement itself, but potentially its implementation. The best way to address the identified challenges is to get involved”.
The Minister said government would build strong institutions, create unparalleled legal and regulatory frameworks, reduce bureaucracy and fight corruption which would enable the country partakes in the continental market to achieve economic growth, create jobs and improve standard of living in the country.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the President/Chairman of Council, Institute of Directors (IODs) Nigeria, Chief Chris Okunowo stated that the main objective of the Annual Directors’ Conference (ADC was to create a conducive environment for members to meet and share ideas and thoughts with their counterparts from other parts of the country and the world, adding that ,the Institute brings up topical issues in the areas of governance, ethics, leadership, management business and economy.
The President explained that the theme of this year’s Annual Conference was carefully chosen among other options in recognition of the trending issues and conversations arising from the signing of the AfCFTA.