Sun News Online -14 July 2022
AfCFTA: Inconclusive rules of origin, trade in services delay commencement –NAC
Secretary, National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Francis Anatogu, has disclosed that trade was yet to commence due to delays in the conclusion of negotiations on rules of origin and trade in services.
Anatogu, who made the remark while speaking on the theme: “Implementing AfCFTA in Nigeria – the journey so far,” noted that although official commencement date of trading under the AfCFTA was January 1, 2021, as at May 31, 2022, rules of origin have been concluded on 88 percent of tariff lines.
However, the outstanding rules of origin on automobiles, textile and apparels, fisheries, sugar and tobacco, under discussion centre on how to treat goods produced within free trade zones and special economic zones.
In a bid to fast-track the commencement of actual trade, the Council of AfCFTA Ministers at its meeting in February 2022, agreed to commence trade based on the agreed rules of origin, thus paving the way for state parties to gazette the legal instruments needed at the national level to introduce procedures enabling customs departments to operate under the new regime.
The NAC scribe said it has been acknowledged that the gains from AfCFTA will only materialise through comprehensive and sustainable implementation focused on outcomes, with Nigeria has established the National Action Committee on AfCFTA to coordinate the implementation.
“The Committee has developed a national implementation strategy with specific interventions to drive our mission, strategic objectives for AfCFTA. We have also developed a result management framework to ensure that our efforts are focused on achieving tangible outcomes. The strategy and results management frameworks are currently being validated with policy and regulation agencies prior to approval by the Federal Executive Council.
“Our national strategy envisions leveraging AfCFTA to make our states, cities and communities economically viable and resilient through intra-Africa trade. Our mission is to become the preferred supplier of value-added products and services to Africa. Our strategic objective is to capture 10 per cent of Africa’s imports from the world to double Nigeria’s export revenue by 2035.
“To achieve our AfCFTA mission and objectives, we have anchored our strategy on eight (8) pillars, which are aligned to the African Union’s framework for boosting intra-African trade.
Furthermore, in partnership with the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and with support from Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Anatogu said the committee has commenced a project to onboard Nigeria SMEs onto e-commerce platforms focusing initially on three cities, namely: Lagos, Aba and Kano.
Anatogu said in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the committee has commenced a project to commercialise agricultural research findings available in the various research institutes across the country as a key step to improve yield as well as incentivise research and innovation for agricultural products development for export.
“The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations is leading efforts to update Nigeria’s trade policy and to establish a trade remedies authority to ensure that we have robust capabilities to tackle the threat of unfair subsidies, dumping, smuggling and other predatory trade practices.
“Following the approval of the National Quality Policy by the Federal Executive Council, the institutional framework for its implementation has been established and the execution of the implementation plan has commenced.
“In conclusion, the AfCFTA journey has commenced in earnest and intensive preparations are underway across agencies of government. The NAC on AfCFTA is working assiduously to conclude the national AfCFTA strategy and the associated results management framework and to coordinate all public and private sector actors involved in implementing AfCFTA to ensure that tangible outcomes are achieved.”