The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has revealed that companies in Nigeria stand to benefit from a market worth $666.2 billion when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement fully comes on stream.
AfCFTA is an intra-African trade agreement that was adopted on March 21, 2018, to boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations, with President Muhammadu Buhari signing the agreement in 2019 at the AU summit which held in Niamey.
Emefiele, Tuesday at the Virtual 6th Export Seminar organised by Zenith Bank Plc, said the AfCFTA has a lot to offer the country if its laudable goals and objectives are fully implemented.
Speaking on the theme; “Nigeria’s Economic Prosperity: The role of Intra- Regional Trade and Non – oil Export Initiatives”, said the AfCFTA offers a lot of opportunities for the private sector in Nigeria.
“We believe that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offer significant opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to expand into new markets, and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of Manufacturing, ICT, Agriculture and Financial services, given our growing advantage in these areas relative to our counterparts in other parts of Africa.
The CBN Governor noted that businesses in Nigeria should take advantage of the preferential access to $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services.
“Full implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services.
“I believe that we should seize this opportunity to ensure that Nigeria serves as a significant hub for international and domestic manufacturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African Markets.
Emefiele also expressed delight at the young and energetic population of Nigeria.
“In addition, we have a very young energetic, technological savvy population that have been leveraging technological applications to improve service delivery in the areas of finance, logistics and agriculture to consumers in Nigeria.
“I believe the AFCFTA will provide an opportunity for these young talented Nigerians to expand their services across the African region. Developing trade portals that could support instant sales of goods manufactured in Nigeria to consumers in other parts of Africa is one aspect that can help to support the creation of jobs in Nigeria and improve foreign exchange inflows for the country.”
According to Emefiele, the apex bank has earmarked steps to boost the productive capacity of businesses across the country.
“Although Nigeria stands to gain from expanded trade, I believe it is also important that we pay attention to the cost that expanded trade through the AFCFTA could have on local businesses and communities.
“Smuggling of goods produced in non-African countries into Nigeria, and abuse of rules of origin have often resulted in significant job losses and displacements of workers in key sectors of our economy such as agriculture and manufacturing.
“It is vital that we work with the governing body of the AFCFTA in addressing these concerns, as it has profound implications on unemployment and security in Nigeria.”
In his welcome address, the Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, lauded the economic diversification drive by the Federal Government, calling on all Nigerians to leverage on the non-oil sector to reduce over-dependence on the sector.