The Federal Government in a bid to expand Nigeria’s trade with other countries of the world has inaugurated a national committee for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations.
African Union Heads of State and Government at their summit in 2012, decided to establish a Continental Free Trade Area, as part of a plan to industrialize the Continent by 2063 as well as boost Intra-Africa trade, which is currently, at only 19 per cent.
The Minister Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who inaugurated the committee on Thursday in Abuja said the Nigerian Economic Summit Group will from henceforth, be part of the Nigerian negotiating team for the CFTA.
This, he added, has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The 20 member committee has representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Office of the Vice President; Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Nigeria Customs Service; and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Others are the Central Bank of Nigeria; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; NESG; Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission; National Bureau of Statistics; National Association of Nigerian Traders; and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
The rest are National Coalition of Service Industry; National Association of Small Scale Industries; Representatives of Academia; Representatives of Digital Economy (Jumia, Iroko and Andela).
The committee, according to the minister, is saddled with the responsibility to advise government on the CFTA negotiations, across all the negotiating areas, including, but not limited to goods, services, investment, competition and intellectual property.
It would also undertake analysis to ensure that the negotiations and emerging results is in tandem with the goals established by the Federal Government as well as identify the opportunities and challenges facing the country in trade with other African countries.
The minister described the inauguration of the committee as a game changer for the Nigerian economy, adding that through the instrument of trade negotiations, the government can diversify the economy, create jobs and ensure inclusive growth.
He said, “We need to grow and modernize the Nigerian economy through African trade integration.
“This would require focus, discipline, organization,determination and the exercise of that famous entrepreneurial spirit for which Nigerians are renowned the world-over.
“The inauguration of the National Committee for the CFTA, today, is therefore, intended to reinforce the process for national economic recovery and development, across all areas. Today’s inauguration is auspicious and timely.”
Enelamah said Nigeria’s goal with the CFTA is to create win-win partnerships that will drive inward investment; support Nigerian exporters of goods and services to secure expanded market access in other African economies; and create jobs for Nigerians.