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NAC to anchor agreement on 8 pillars to boost trade – VELOXNEWS

By Merit Ibe, [email protected] 

To achieve the objectives of the intra-Africa trade, the National Action Committee (NAC) on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA),  has said it would anchor  its strategy on eight pillars that would align with the African Union’s framework for boosting the continental trade.

Secretary of the Committee, Francis Anatogu, who made the remark recently also  added that in partnership with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and support from Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the committee has  commenced a project to onboard Nigeria SMEs on to its e-commerce platforms focusing initially on three cities of Lagos, Aba and Kano.

He 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 one of the steps to improve yield as well as incentivise research and innovation for agricultural products development for export.

Reeling out the content of the pillars, he said the first focuses on establishing institutional framework to coordinate the multiple agencies in the public and private sectors involved in implementing the provisions of the AfCFTA Agreement.

According to  him, the second  pillar focuses on growing  export production capacity to $50billon per annum in selected priority product value chains and growing highly productive workforce to earn premium wages in Nigeria and Africa. Based on this, the Secretariat of the NAC on AfCFTA in collaboration with the Nigeria Governors Forum organised a 3-day subnational strategy workshop on AfCFTA in November 2021 and over 10 states have set up their Technical Working Group (TWG) on AfCFTA.

He said “Our charge to states is for them to build an ecosystem around a specific product/ service value chain to achieve a minimum of $1.2billion of exports by 2035.”

“Another component of this pillar focuses on aggregating SMEs for AfCFTA. This programme involves working with aggregator companies and large companies to train and onboard SMEs into their supply chains.

On the third pillar, the NAC scribe said it would based on trade facilitation, reducing time and cost of trade by simplifying, modernising and harmonising import and export processes and procedures. “It also focuses on automation of administrative and regulatory compliance processes.

“The fourth pillar focuses domesticating the AfCFTA agreement by updating trade and complementary policies regulations and laws to align with the provisions of the AfCFTA Agreement and to conform with contemporary practices. “On this pillar, the review and update of Nigeria’s trade policy is underway led by the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN). Furthermore, in partnership with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the National Action Committee on AfCFTA has commenced a project to define the requisite updates to our policies regulations and laws, identify similar updates to request from our trading partners and define areas where we should pursue mutual recognition and cooperation agreements.

“The fifth pillar focuses on trade infrastructure including energy, digital, water and logistics infrastructure to enable intra-Africa trade. In 2020 Nigeria ranked 110 out of 160 countries assessed in the Global Logistics Performance Index evidencing the existing challenges in the quality of trade and transport infrastructure, ease of arranging competitively priced shipping, timeliness, and ability to track and trace shipments. Achieving efficiency, reducing the time and cost required to move cargo and persons across the various transportation modes, will be an important enabler of trade competitiveness for Nigeria and therefore a critical imperative for Logistic and Supply Chain.  

Anatogu said the sixth pillar of the project would focuses on trade finance and involves configuring and strengthening financial service institutions and businesses for continental trade including financing export trade, providing banking, insurance and related services. Some of the issues to be resolved include how to de-risk lending to businesses in both domestic and regional markets, pool together funding and transactions, standardise credit rating, as well as extending insurance coverage for regional transactions.

“The seventh pillar focuses on bridging the gaps in trade information. This involves providing product and market information to the trading community. Already Nigeria has signed up to the African Trade Observatory project which will collate trade statistics and other relevant information from all participating state parties.

“The eighth pillar focuses on facilitating mobility of Nigerian labour across Africa and market access. On market access, we will take deliberate steps to take Nigerian products and services to Africa leveraging innovative logistics solutions, creating strong national brand and matchmaking Nigerian businesses with their African counterparts.

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