Nigeria plots course to membership of Africa’s proposed free trade zone

Nigeria is backing its promise to join Africa’s recently signed free trade zone by setting up a committee to implement the agreement, and promising new laws were necessary to enact membership of the pact, the presidency said on Sunday.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), launched by African leaders on July 7, will if successful generate a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of advancement.

The country entered AfCFTA despite initial hesitancy due to a desire to ensure it would not open local industries to dumping from countries outside the region, and its decision is an important affirmation as the largest economy on the continent.

The executive said it would set up a committee made up of government organs and private sector groups to carry out the trade agreement.

In preparing Nigeria for the pact, President Muhammadu Buhari needs to push for a number of measures which would promote trade and boost local capacity to produce and export goods and services, among other policies, it said.

“Overall, the implementation of the AfCFTA is going to be a long journey,” it said. “Nigeria is committed to ensuring that Africa achieves a free and fair trade environment… through increased intra-African trade.”

The African Development Bank president told Reuters on Saturday that African nations will need to boost production of goods and services and incorporate payment systems if they are to take advantage of the initiative.

The pact, which creates a single market for goods and services and movement of persons to raise intra-African trade and strengthen African economic integration, would be implemented in phases.

The first phase will be to establish a protocol for trade in goods and services and conflict resolution rules. The second will cover competition, investment and intellectual property rights, with negotiations due to start next year.