President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a National Action Committee (NAC) for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in Nigeria.
On Sunday, 7 July 2019, the president signed the AfCFTA agreement at the twelfth Extraordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State in Niamey, Republic of Niger.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said the National Action Committee would comprise the representatives of Ministries and Agencies with competent and relevant jurisdiction.
Other members of the committee, according to him, are selected stakeholder groups from the private sector and the civil society to coordinate the implementation of all the AfCFTA readiness interventions.
He said members of the committee would, on inauguration, undertake a process of engagement with stakeholders to sensitise them on the opportunities and challenges of the AfCFTA, with preparedness plans for the Nigerian economy.
“Upon ratification, Nigeria will domesticate the Agreement by incorporating it into existing laws or enacting new laws, as appropriate. Engagement shall shortly start with the Ninth National Assembly,’’ he added.
Shehu revealed that the President had approved recommendations of the Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
The Committee, which was inaugurated by the President in October 2018, submitted its report on 27 June.
According to him, the Phase II negotiations are expected to commence in January 2020 and will cover competition, investment and intellectual property rights.
Shehu disclosed that the recommendations approved by Buhari included: “Signature and ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement.
“Engaging in the ongoing negotiations of the annexures of the Agreement to incorporate safeguards for the economy, such as: a longer period to achieve AfCFTA’s trade liberalization ambition; common exclusive and sensitive lists for ECOWAS.
“Import quotas for exclusive and sensitive products; security and customs cooperation and other measures to tackle smuggling, non-tariff barriers to trade and predatory trade practices.’’
He said the president approved sustaining the trade reforms at ECOWAS, including “the establishment of a common trade policy, improving the operation and welfare gains from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and establishment of an ECOWAS peer review and audit mechanism.
“Establishing and championing programmes at AU/AfCFTA to resolve the critical continental level challenges to the success of the AfCFTA including smuggling, abuse of rules of origin, low production and service capacities, poor infrastructure and revenue loss,’’ he said.