President Muhammadu Buhari has said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) reforms will increase Nigeria’s non-oil exports to other African countries by more than 15 per cent.
“In Nigeria, we have realised that AfCFTA would be a game changer when it comes to stimulating intra-African trade because the more ambitious the trade liberalisation, the greater the expansion of Nigerian exports to its African partners,” he said.
He said the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) projected that AfCFTA could boost intra-Africa trade by 52 per cent, with the industrial sector forecast to gain the most.
Buhari said Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and exports would increase by $44 billion and $56 billion respectively, while AFCFTA could potentially increase jobs and move informal traders into the formal sector.
He said following this, African countries must therefore expand and diversify their participation in international trade and global value chains to create wealth, generate employment and reduce poverty on a large scale as well as transform their economies.
He said the experience during the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant global lockdown showed the need for a vibrant and successful AfCFTA as it exposed Africa’s dependence on commodity exports to other parts of the world and import of manufactured goods from them.
“Deepening regional integration to scale up supply capacity and build regional value chains is essential to the continent’s economic transformation.
The establishment of the AfCFTA presents major opportunities for production and exports, creates employment, and limits the impact of commodity price volatility on the economies of various African countries.
“AfCFTA is expected to bring about a number of benefits to producers, consumers and countries alike. The hope is that African producers would benefit from cheaper inputs and intermediate goods as well as larger markets for their products while consumers have access to cheaper goods and a broader variety of products,” he said.
Buhari said African economies should experience gains from trade and further benefit from removing the onerous requirements belonging to multiple and overlapping trade agreements within the continent.
He said for AfCFTA to have a positive influence on long-term productive capacities, African governments must develop appropriate supporting policies, build the requisite infrastructure and ensure an educated workforce.