The Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday ratified Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known at the end of the weekly meeting of the Council at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
AfCFTA was created by the African continental free trade agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. The main objectives of the agreement are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.
Mohammed disclosed that with the ratification, Nigeria has beaten the December 5 deadline set for all countries to ratify their membership in the continental free trade area.
According to him: “The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment presented a memo on Wednesday asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
“You remember that on July 7, 2019, Nigeria signed the AfCFTA agreement in Niamey during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.
“The effective date ought to have been July 2020, but it was postponed to Jan. 1, 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. All member states were given up to Dec. 5 to ratify the agreement.
“That is precisely what Nigeria did today. The Federal Executive Council approved the ratification of the country’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
“It was ratified and as such, we beat the deadline of December 5. Effectively, we hope that by January 1, 2021, the agreement will come into force.’’
Among other objectives, the agreement seeks to create a continental trade bloc of 1.2 billion people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $3 trillion. Being the largest and most populated African economy, Nigeria stands to gain severally from the continental deal.
One of the pillars of the AfCFTA is the promise of zero tariffs for over 90 percent of goods traded between African countries. Thus, manufacturers in Nigeria can look forward to getting their locally-made goods across borders and into other African markets without paying any duty and, in the process, attract foreign currency (forex) into the country.