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Amidst border closure policy, Nigeria hosts African Free Trade Agreement forum

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Otunba Niyi Adebayo and President Buhari

Nigeria, which signed the landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement in July, is this week hosting its national AfCFTA Forum on the “Effective Implementation of the AfCFTA for Industrialization and Inclusive Economic Development”.

The Forum, which runs from 5-6 December 2019 in Lagos, is being co-organized with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the European Union, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC).

This AfCFTA Forum will bring together the private sector in Nigeria to afford them the opportunity to learn how to best leverage the opportunities within the AfCFTA. The role of the private sector is critical in its implementation,” says Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor with the African Trade Policy Centre at the ECA.

The forum is also a platform to actively engage with and consult intra-African actors across a diverse range of different sectors to better understand how the agreement can shape more inclusive economic development in Nigeria.

The AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 having been ratified by the required 22 countries. Currently, 54 countries have signed, and 27 countries have ratified the AfCFTA. The historic agreement provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc, ushering in a new era of development.

The agreement has the potential to generate a range of benefits for Nigeria through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction.

Nigerian President, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, signed the AfCFTA agreement in Niamey at the African Union Summit in July after what his government said were comprehensive consultations with the private sector and in-depth consideration of its potential impact on the Nigerian economy.

Following this, the National Action Committee for the implementation of the AfCFTA under the chairmanship of Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, was created, signalling its readiness to implement the agreement.

In meeting these objectives, the AfCFTA will become a key engine of economic growth, industrialization and sustainable development in Africa in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for “The Africa We Want”.

This Forum is part of a comprehensive project, supported financially by the European Union, aiming to deepen Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. The ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to ensure effective AfCFTA implementation strategies.