The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo, has indicated that increased smuggling and abuse of rules of origin are key factors that will hinder the country from benefiting from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Speaking at the third edition of Zenith Bank's International Trade Seminar yesterday in Lagos, the Minister, represented by Francis Anatogu, Senior Special Adviser to the President on public sector said these factors will incentivize rogue traders to disguise and distribute goods imported from outside the continent, as duty free made-in-Africa goods.
He stated further: "It is also envisaged that without adequate provisions for adjustment costs, the surge in imports that will arise with AfCFTA will likely threaten output, jobs and investment in the manufacturing sector and local infant industries.
"While these conditionalities and threats indicate that a lot must be done to prepare Nigeria to achieve the envisaged benefits of the AfCFTA, it is also worth knowing that Nigeria is not at ground zero in terms of readiness."
In his goodwill message, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, stressed that there is a need for fair trade in businesses to achieve the benefits of AfCFTA, but he believes it is going to be fruitful for Nigeria and it will enable local producers have access to other markets within the continent. Emefiele, represented by Dr. Ekhator Atise Johnson, Branch Controller, CBN Lagos, however stated: "All other parties must engage in the fair trade if the agreement is going to be of value to our country.
The situation where other countries and goods are on transit point to enable a type of subsidized imports in Nigeria which harm our local farmers and industries cannot and should not be tolerated. All parties must work to encourage fair trade for the gains of AfCFTA to be achieved."
Speaking at the seminar, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said increased non-oil exports will drive economic growth.
Represented by Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Zenith Bank (Ghana), Mr Henry Oroh, Onyeagwu said: "The most viable option for us as a nation lies in stimulating the non-oil exports.
"Zenith Bank saw this emerging opportunity early and has developed robust financial products and incentives for operators in the sector to drive the much-needed growth."
Citing the International Monetary Fund, he noted that escalating trade policy uncertainties were the biggest risk to the future of the global trading system, slowing the pace of growth of the global economy since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
He also noted that the synchronized economic slowdown and volatility in commodity prices had continued to underscore the vulnerability of the country's weighty dependence on crude oil as a major source of foreign exchange earnings.