The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recently urged the federal government not to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement until the concerns of its members are addressed.
MAN insisted that its concerns were yet to be addressed, while pointing out that the recently conducted and launched study by the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) was yet to address the lapses it had identified.
This was disclosed by the President of MAN, Mr. Frank Jacobs, in Lagos.
The association said it was worrisome to observe that the study failed to address the concerns of manufacturers, stressing that the outcome of the NOTN sponsored independent study on the potential benefits of AfCFTA on Nigeria fell short of standards and lacked the much-needed information required to take an informed decision adding that MAN has since commissioned a study and it expects to have the report about a month from now.
It expressed optimism that Nigeria may become a big player and key driver of improved volume of intra-African trade in an African Free Trade Area with the right market offer mix, rules of origin, countervailing measures, dispute settlement mechanism, non-tariff and technical barriers provisions, amongst other protocols and annexures, but stated that the only way to guarantee this positive proposition is to ensure that its negotiating team is guided by a credible and strategic country specific study.
MAN argued that there was no wisdom in signing-on upfront only to end up struggling to find space in the accompanying protocols and annexures.
The association said there was need to ascertain whether the agreement was in sync and not constraining the nation's extant economic policies, including the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
He stated that the pact has no credible country specific study to show the potential impact of the AfCFTA; "no specific attention was given to determine the cost and benefit analysis of the agreement; the sectors/sub-sectors that would benefit or be worse off as a result of the agreement are unknown; no clear-cut recommendation on strategies that government would adopt to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector to compete effectively."
According to him, "In the light of recent developments, we considered it necessary to intimate you that an insignificant number of non-real sector operators in the private sector are tactfully recommending that the president should sign the agreement under the camouflage that majority of Nigerians and the organised private sector agrees with their position.
"They are essentially not at home with the technicalities of a trade agreement of this magnitude. The pronouncement of this group of actors is not representative of the views of the Organized Private Sector of Nigeria." stated that the Nigerian market is not ready for the Common External Tariff (CET) for countries in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)."