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Buhari gives assurance AfCFTA treaty won’t affect manufacturers’ interest

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Manufacturers got an assurance
on Wednesday from President Muhammadu Buhari that the African Continent Free
Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty would not affect their interests.

He assured the manufacturing
and business community that proper safeguards would be put in place to block
adverse malpractices.
The President gave the
reassurance when he hosted the leadership of the Lagos State Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (LCCI), led by its President Babatunde Ruwase, at the
State House in Abuja.
According to him, this will be
done in the next phase of AfCFTA negotiations
He said: “The consultative
approach Nigeria took on the AfCFTA is just another example of our desire for
sustainable and inclusive growth.
“The team visited all the
geopolitical zones. We met farmers, commodity traders, manufacturers, bankers
and stock brokers. And we listened and made note of their views.
“Our studies revealed that
although the services sector was doing ok, other key job creating sectors such
as manufacturing and processing were still lagging behind.
“This is evident by the fact
that intra-African trade only accounts for 14 per cent of Africa’s total trade.
As a continent, our consumption is mostly of goods imported from outside the
“We viewed this as both an
opportunity and a threat. It is an opportunity as Nigerian manufacturers can
aggressively expand to meet the huge demand across the continent.
“It is a threat as one can
abuse the rules of origin to flood the market with imports from outside the
continent thereby destroying jobs here at home.
“Nigeria’s engagement in the
next phase of the negotiations is to ensure proper safeguards are put in place
to support African manufacturers. We shall continue to count on your support to
ensure this goal is achieved.”
Admitting that the Apapa
gridlock still remains a challenge, he said that he was saddened that
businesses have had to suffer as a result of it.
The President said that the Federal
Government was doing its best and working with the Lagos State Government to
bring an end to the problem.
He also assured the group of
his administration’s continued commitment to supporting the private sector to
flourish and create jobs across the country.
He added: “In the last four
years, we have invested heavily in infrastructure development. We supported our
development banks to provide loans to traders and small enterprises.
“We signed executive orders to
support local content consumption. We also focused on enhancing ease of doing
business to facilitate investment.
“Thankfully, there was
alignment with the monetary authorities and this significantly contributed to
the successes we are seeing today.”
Ruwase listed the importance of
the CAMA bill and the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) as he urged the
President to sign them into law.
On Apapa gridlock, the LCCI
chief commended Federal Government’s effort in decongesting the gridlock,
saying the move had brought a partial relief.
He pleaded with the President
to sustain the effort, stressing that the challenge is not over yet.
Ruwase said: “We commended your
intervention to resolve the traffic gridlock around the Lagos ports in Apapa.
We have experienced partial decongestion of the roads but the problem is still
not over. We urge you to please sustain your interest in this matter to ensure
that it is fully resolved.”
He also urged the President to
prevail on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to deepen its consultations with
stakeholders before major monetary policy decisions are taken.
He commended the President on
the signing of AfCFTA, saying it will promote continental economic integration
as well as the growth of member countries.
He also commended the
constitution of the National Action Committee (NAC) on the implementation of
the agreement, pointing out that the group would be looking forward to speedy
execution of programmes and projects that will foster the atmosphere for
competitiveness among Nigerian businesses.
“We commend Your Excellency for
signing the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). We believe it
would promote continental economic integration and economic growth of member
“We appreciate in particular
the extensive consultation with the private sector which preceded the signing
of the agreement.
“We also commend the recent
setting up of National Action Committee on the implementation of the AfCFTA. We
look forward to speedy execution of programmes and projects that will create
the environment to enhance the competitiveness of Nigerian businesses within
the context of the AfCFTA.”
Ruwase had during his visit to
President Buhari on the October 26, last year, sought for expeditious
consideration of the PIB.
 He also drew his attention to some abandoned Federal
Government properties in Lagos, among other issues.
The LCCI had also visited Vice
President Yemi Osinbajo in his office on many occasions in the past four years.
The Nation.

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