The Federal Government yesterday in Abuja inaugurated a national committee to negotiate a free trade area for the African continent.
Launching the National Committee for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations in Abuja, yesterday, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, said the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) would henceforth be part of the Nigerian negotiating team for the CFTA, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The committee is to serve and advise government, as the national multi-stakeholder technical platform on the CFTA negotiations, across all the negotiating areas, including, but not limited to goods, services, investment, competition and intellectual property.
It would also monitor the negotiations and undertake analysis to ensure that the negotiations and emerging results approximate the goals for the negotiations established by the government.
The committee is also expected to identify the opportunities and challenges facing the country in trade with other African countries, both intra and Inter-Regional Economic Communities (REC); and participate in the negotiations, as appropriate.
“We need to grow and modernise the Nigerian economy through African trade integration. This would require focus, discipline, organisation, determination and the exercise of that famous entrepreneurial spirit for which Nigerians are known the world over,” the minister said.
At their summit in 2012, African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government decided to establish a Continental Free Trade Area, as part of a plan to industrialise the continent by 2063 as well as boost intra-Africa trade, currently at only 19 per cent.
Members were also drawn from the NESG, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, National Bureau of Statistics, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, National Coalition of Service Industry, National Association of Small Scale Industries, representatives of academia; representatives of digital economy (Jumia, Iroko and Andela).
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