President Buhari makes an inconclusive statement on signing the Continental free trade Agreement

The president of Nigeria, Muhamadu Buhari has received the report on the impact of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Nigeria’s readiness for it from the Committee he set up last year. This was made known in a twitter post by the president.

The president did not make it clear whether Nigeria would sign the agreement at the upcoming African Union Summit instead, he said “trade is important for us as a nation. Economic progress is what makes the world go around. Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.”

However Reuters earlier today reported that the president will sign Africa free trade agreement which may not be the case

It would be recalled that when the landmark agreement was first signed in March 2018, Nigeria and South Africa which are Africa’s biggest economies said they wouldn’t sign the deal. The president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa had said that he needed to consult home; the Cabinet; the partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council as well as Parliamentarians because the country was going through a cleaning up process to ensure everyone is on board. Meanwhile the president of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari had stated that Nigeria will not sign the deal and that the trade agreement must fairly and equitably represent the interest of Nigeria and her African brothers.

As at the time, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau did not sign the trade deal. Later on, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Botswana, Guinea Bissau, South Africa and Burundi finally signed the agreement with Nigeria, Benin and Eritrea being the only countries left.

The unified Continental Free Trade Agreement will pave way for a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent. It will creat a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than $2.2 trillion. It will also help expand intra-continental trade and boost global competitiveness.

According to experts, the agreement would help reduce tariffs and benefit entrepreneurs, which includes small and medium businesses. It will be an opportunity for entrepreneurs from African countries to start working together with each other in a trade tariff-free environment. However standard measures need to be put in place to ensure that the products are of good quality.

The agreement also comes at a time when there has been an increased risk of a full-scale trade war by US President Donald Trump imposing heavy duties on imported products.