The political will exist for Africa to have a free trade agreement in place by the end of 2017, according to Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria's minister of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking in an interview given to Oxford Business Group (OBG), Onyeama said that an intra-regional deal had the potential to produce several broad-based benefits for African nations, aside from boosting trade levels, such as the roll-out of new transport infrastructure.
"This could have a major impact on Nigeria by opening up a larger market," he told the global research and consultancy firm. "The country could gain tremendous advantages from such developments."
The full interview with Onyeama will appear OBG website at the section News&Views at the following link https://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/views/geoffrey-onyeama-minister-foreign-affairs. In the interview, the minister maps out Nigeria's plans to build on its trade relations with regional partners and others farther afield.
Turning to the European Partnership Agreement, which Nigeria has yet to sign, Onyeama acknowledged that both the government and private sector remain concerned about the impact of such a deal on the country's fledgling manufacturing industry.
"If we open the industry up to competition with European manufacturers and make our market available to others, it would be an uneven fight," he said. "This is why many believe the industry still needs protecting."
In the interview, the minister also highlighted Nigeria's commitment to strengthening its relationship with China. While the Asian powerhouse is already playing a major role in Nigeria's infrastructural drive, the government is keen to explore additional opportunities for cooperation, he said.
"We see our relationship with China evolving, and we think it is very positive at the moment," he told OBG. "We are evaluating the possibility of making the Chinese yuan one of the baskets of currencies to give us some alternatives. We are also looking for China to import more from Nigeria, especially in terms of agricultural products."
The Report: Nigeria 2017 will be a vital guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and other sectoral developments. The publication will contain a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for investors, alongside contributions from leading personalities, including His Excellency the President Muhammadu Buhari, Mohammed Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for petroleum, and Okechukwu E. Enelamah, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments. It will be available in print and online.
Oxford Business Group is a global research and consultancy company with a presence in over 35 countries, from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to the Americas. A distinctive and respected provider of on-the-ground intelligence on many of the world's fastest growing markets, OBG has offices in London, Berlin, Dubai and Istanbul, and a network of local bureaus across the countries in which we operate.
The Report: Nigeria 2017 will be produced with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. Contributions will also be made by SIAO, FBN, Coronation Merchant Bank and Stillwaters Law Firm. Through its range of products, OBG offers comprehensive and accurate analysis of macroeconomic and sectoral developments, including banking, capital markets, tourism, energy, transport, industry and ICT. OBG provides business intelligence to its subscribers through multiple platforms: Economic News and Views, OBG Business Barometer - CEO Survey, Roundtables and Conferences, Global Platform - exclusive video interviews, The Report publications and Consultancy division.