By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Chartered Institute of Financial and Investment Analysts, Nigeria (CIFIAN) has advised Federal Government to expand its base of consultation on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) that it recently signed.
CIFIAN, a professional and examination body, also advised federal government to expand membership of trade groups to other professional bodies for purposeful exploration of diverse views and positions in national interest.
Mr Chris Kaka, a lecturer with CIFIAN, gave the advice on Friday in Abuja, while reading the institution’s press statement entitled “Endorsement of AfCFTA and its Direct Implications on Nigeria Investment Environment.”
Kaka commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the political leadership provided in the national approach to trade agreements negotiations and for initialing the AfCFTA only after an extensive consultation with domestic stakeholders.
He said the action signaled government’s political commitment to move Nigeria towards economic integration.
Kaka said that contrary to public reservation on government decision to enter into the AfCFTA negotiations, CIFIAN fully supported the step taken by the federal government.
He said that Nigeria’s failure to enter into the negotiations would confront the country with the task of rigorous bilateral negotiations with each African Union (AU) Member State.
He said that though AfCFTA was not a total and immediate liberalisation of the domestic economy, it was a structured liberalisation with clauses for protection of products sensitive to rural and national development.
“Without a doubt the AfCFTA of trade liberalisation presents risk for domestic economy. It however must be understood that all trade agreements hold both potential and risk.
“It is incumbent on negotiators either as individual member states or as part of Regional Economic Community (REC) to minimise the risk as negotiation progresses.
“The AfCFTA presents opportunities for expansion of existing market, entrance into new markets frontier, technology transfer, employment generation, expansion of investment etc,” he said.
Kaka added that while CIFIAN commended FG for signing the agreement, there were issues still needed to be worked on, as Nigeria continued in consultation, articulation and finalisation of positions.
He said that beyond entering into the rounds of negotiations of the protocol, it was important for Nigeria to avoid pitfall in negotiation outcome that could compromise and undermine the intent of the agreement for member states.
“It is imperative for Nigeria to enter into the rounds of negotiations with a view to minimising the impact of the eminent losses and challenges that are bound to emerge from the deal.
“We should at the same time be maximising the opportunities of wider cross-boarder trade and market, job opportunities, technology transfer etc taking into consideration the macroeconomic development agenda objectives of the country,” he said.
Kaka also called on local and continental financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) the Africa Export and Import Bank (Afrexirnbank) to design special credit facilities packages for both local companies and member states government.
This, according to him, was necessary to developing infrastructure that would boost production and reduce cost of operations.
“CIFIAN calls for increased enlightenment of the legislature for effective oversight on Nigeria’s participation in the negotiation of AfCFTA and other similar trade agreements for their effective performance of oversight functions.
“CIFIAN call on government to urgently improve the investment climate and reduce the cost of doing business – not only for large multinational and pan-African companies, but also for SMES and the informal sector.
“This is required for effective utilisation of emerging and existing opportunities in order to achieve economic’ development, and growth.” he added.