The African Union (AU) has reassured that when Nigeria signs the African Continent Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement, the Government and indeed the private sector will reap a lot of economic benefit from the pact.
The Regional trade Advicer of the AU, Jean Bertand Azapmo said this when he led a delegation of AU stakeholders on African Trade policies to the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in Abuja on Thursday.
According to him, signing the agreement will open the door for development opportunities and will widen the market for private sectors.
He said: “Nigeria has 200 million people, which is a sizeable market, but what is the market compared to the AFCFTA market has 1.2 billion consumers. And by 2030 it will be 1.7billion and the largest market in the world.
“So in terms of goods and services the Nigerian private sectors has lot to benefit from AFCFTA and by doing so it’ll also contribute to the economic growth of the country.
Earlier, the president of the ACCI Adetokunbo Kayode assured the African Union that Nigeria will sign the AFCFTA agreement.
The president also assured that the ACCI, the Federal Government and the organized private sectors in Nigeria are committed to the promotion of intra-African trade.
He said: “It is a notorious fact that Nigeria has not yet signed the AFCFTA, but I want to assure you that we will sign.
“I want to send this message to all our African brothers that Nigeria stands by the free trade agreement and we are ready to work with our colleagues and trade with our brothers and to collaborate and partner with all African companies.”
Further, the ACCI president urged the AU to rethink the issue of funding of Small Scale and Medium Enterprises ,(SMEs). He said the mechanism and approach on funding must be changed.
“Africa is continent of SMEs, we must change our approach on funding for SMEs. Our commercial banks will never fund our SMEs, so I want to use this platform to plead to AU to support the rethink for a mechanism for funding.
Kayode adviced that a mechanism where SME operators will not be given cash directly should be considered as it will guarantee that funds for the operators will not be diverted.