…As Envoy says Signing of AfCFTA will strengthen ties between Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire***
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has advised the National Assembly (NASS) to timely ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to ensure its speedy implementation.
The body stated this in Abuja, just as the Ivorian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs. Toure Maman expressed optimism, that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) by both countries would help strengthen economic ties between them.
The NANTS President, Mr Ken Ukaoha specifically noted that AfCFTA ratification would enable Nigeria to quickly join the committee of nations that would benefit from the agreement.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 7, at the 12th African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic signed the agreement establishing AfCFTA. He also approved the establishment of National Action Committee (NAC) for implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.
Ukaoha, a Legal Practitioner said that the parliament had a major role to play in terms of ratifying the AfCFTA agreement, adding that after signing such an agreement, its endorsement should follow suit.
“And of course we know that courtesy of Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, no international agreement or treaty can come into force except it is ratified by the National Assembly.
“So the National Assembly should also be seriously and urgently doing so in recourse to provisions of Section 19 of the Constitution which is part of the fundamental objectives of the government.
“One is that our foreign policy objective is in tandem with the AfCFTA, therefore the National Assembly should look at AfCFTA from that angle and ratify it because the implementation is knocking at the door,’’ Ukaoha said.
According to him, there is no need of wasting time in the process, the private sector has decided to move along and so the National Assembly should rise up and do their bidding.
Speaking about its implementation, he explained that the reports of the Presidential Committee on AfCFTA had already showed what Nigeria should do as a country to effectively implement the agreement for the benefit of the people.
“It is one thing to sign agreement and another thing to implement such agreement, there are things we need to do as a country for us to be part of the benefits.’’
He further said that the Federal Government should look into funding of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for effective implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The MSMEs is the fulcrum of every economy and therefore if we do not fund this, we will remain where we are.
“Secondly, the president should call the private sector to a meeting to strategise on the way forward to implement this agreement because there is no country among the 54 countries in Africa you will not find Nigerian traders.
“If they are found there, located in such countries, then for this particular instruments to realistically benefit Nigeria in terms of implementation it means that these traders in such countries should become trade ambassadors to the country,’’ he said.
The NANTS boss also said that Nigeria’s export orientation strategy must change, adding that the country should no longer be limited to trade missions and trade fares.
According to him, we should rather be identifying required products in specific countries that can compete so that the organised private sector can strategically begin to invest in the development and progressive growth of such product.
The AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments.
It covers Protocol on Trade in Goods and Services, Competition Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights.
Meanwhile, the Ivorian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs Toure Maman says the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) by both countries would help strengthen economic ties between them.
Maman expressed the optimism in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
She described the agreement, which requires member states to massively reduce tariffs on goods as well as allow free access to commodities and services across the continent, as welcome economic development for both countries.
She said that the signing of the agreement in July marked a new dawn in trade relations between Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
Maman said: “Cote d’ Ivoire is a very open country where you can go and carry out your business operations, in line with the AfCFTA.
“If you have money to establish a business there you are free to do so, you do not need to think that Ivorians have to be the chief executive or anything related to that.
“Cote d’Ivoire is part of the free trade agreement, which it is the best thing to have happened in Africa because Nigerians/Ivorians will get to relate with each other better through trade.
”Although we are in the same continent, some people do not know the economic and natural potentials inherent in the region.
“We are very glad to be part of the AfCFTA; I congratulate President Buhari for signing the agreement, because free movement will help to strengthen the trade between our countries.”
According to Maman, the Ivorian government has concluded arrangement for a smooth conduct of proper country’s 2020 presidential election through a new Independent Electoral Commission set up by the government.
The envoy added that the Ivorian government had prioritised women participation in the country’s electoral process in a move aimed at promoting gender equality and improving the welfare of citizens of the country.
According to her, the elections will hold on Oct. 31, 2020.
”So, we are in pre-election moment and all the political parties are working together with the President to have an improved commission.
“Everybody is now working together with the President Ouattara-led administration toward the successful conduct of free and peaceful elections.
“We have achieved a lot in terms of gender equity, as this year has been regarded as our year for women and social year in Ivory Coast.
“Cote d’Ivoire government has done a lot in the areas of job creation, provision of electricity and potable drinking water.
“Government also established a 30 per cent quota policy that enables women vying elective positions to contest for legislative assemblies, participate in electoral processes and occupy public offices,” the envoy added.