By Sunday Michael Ogwu
Lagos — The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has decried government’s insistence on signing the African Continental free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) without addressing the concerns of the organised private sector (OPS).
The president of MAN, Dr Frank Udemba Jacobs, stated this while addressing the press on the update of the AfCFTA in Lagos, yesterday.
The reaction of MAN is coming on the heels of comment by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that Nigeria would sign the AfCFTA once government was satisfied the full scope and consequences of the proposal made sense for the country.
Osinbajo said though there have been a lot of concerns about Nigeria’s cautious approach to signing the agreement, it presented real opportunity for the country to expand its reach in trade, commerce and services across Africa.
Jacobs said: “No specific attention was given to determine the cost and benefit analysis of the agreement; the sectors/sub-sectors that would benefit or be worse off as a result of the agreement are unknown as well as no clear-cut recommendation on strategies that government would adopt to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector to compete effectively.”
The president said MAN believes that Nigeria may become a big player and key driver of improved volume of intra-African trade in an African Free Trade Area with the right market offer mix, rules of origin, countervailing measures, dispute settlement mechanism, non-tariff and technical barriers provisions, amongst other protocols and annexures.
“The only way to guarantee this positive proposition is to ensure that our negotiating team is guided by a credible and strategic country specific study.
“There is no wisdom in signing-on upfront only to end up struggling to find space in the accompanying protocols and annexures. We need to be certain that the agreement is in sync and not constraining our extant economic policies, including the NIRP and the ERGP,” he added.
MAN also requested that Mr President should not sign the AfCFTA agreement until the outcome of a credible study so indicated, “but graciously allow the nation’s team to resume participation in the negotiation processes only to ensure that the country is abreast of developments.”
“This will certainly not jeopardise or constrain the reservation of our assent, should we eventually decide that the agreement is definitely not in our favour. It will only mean that, whilst keeping our eyes on the goings-on, we can continue with our much needed and sovereign path to determine whether we should sign-on or not,” Jacob also said.
MAN had in a briefing in March demanded answers on what would be the impact of AfCFTA on the nation’s tax structure, government revenue and the welfare of over 180 million Nigerians.