The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Wednesday strongly supported the move by the federal government on its refusal to sign the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The association frowned at the contents of the agreement, noting that it will lead to gross unemployment in the country as most manufacturing companies in the country will be made to die a quicker death.
The Association President, Frank Jacobs said his association would not support federal government's adoption and ratification of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) until issues of market access and enforcement of rules of origin are addressed.
According to MAN, the agitation from the private sector was a result of lack of consultation and inclusion of inputs of key stakeholders before Nigeria's position was presented at the meetings of the African Union-Technical Working Group on CFTA in the build-up to AfCFTA negotiation by Nigeria.
The AfCTA is expected to create a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion. The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to liberalise services.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Mr. Jacobs explained that the issues of market access that allows only 10 per cent of products to be protected as well as government's enforcement mechanism in the area of enforcement of rules of origin need to be clearly defined before local producers can support the agreement.
Noting that MAN is not oblivious of the benefits inherent in installing a continental trade agreement like AfCFTA that could improve intra-African trade and enhance economic growth and sustainable development, Mr. Jacobs said that Nigeria's national interest should however be the primary consideration in the decision to sign-on to such an arrangement.
In his recommendations, Mr. Jacobs urged the government to set in motion a process that will enable all stakeholders on the international trade value chain in Nigeria to quickly review the text of the draft AfCFTA agreement and come up with comments on areas that are not in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and sectors.
"Government should, as matter of urgency, convene a special meeting of the relevant stakeholders, including experts on trade policy to consider tariff lines rates along the line of efficiency, sectoral and sub-sectoral preferences that would be most beneficial to Nigerian businesses under the AfCFTA dispensation as well as reconsider the national position on EPA vis-a-vis the AfCFTA especially on tariff lines of products on the sensitive/exclusion list, with a view to ensuring that the EU-EPA is not reintroduced through the AfCFTA's back door.
"Review presentations and prepare a detailed submission for the Government on ways and means of participating in the AfCFTA in a manner that our national interest and that of the budding manufacturing sector are effectively protected", he added.