CFTA must be free and fair –Buhari insists

….Adeosun elected Chairman, Afrexim Bank

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday charged those saddled with the responsibility of implementing Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), to ensure the trade agreement is both free and fair. He said the fairness of the trade agreement is achievable assuring that, Nigeria will work towards it. Buhari directed the relevant agencies to conduct intensive and extensive consultations across the nation on the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).

He said the consultation was very important before a final decision is arrived at, as according to the president, ” Nigeria is a federation of 36 states plus FCT Abuja, 774 local governments and millions of interested stakeholders who must be consulted with and listened to, in order to ensure an optimum outcome.”

Addressing the participants, including African leaders that gathered in Abuja for the 25th anniversary celebration/Annual General Meeting of Afrexim Bank, in which Nigeria’s finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun was elected new chairperson Board of Afreximbank, president Buhari said significant progress has been made in the consultations, noting that the team had met key stakeholders across the six geo-political zones.

Commending African leaders and Head of States for the success recorded with Afrexim bank as the continent’s leading finance institution, he said the celebration of 25th years anniversary demonstrates to the world that Africa can create and maintain a world class organisation. ” Just two days ago, I had the pleasure of hosting the board of Afrexim Bank. I was pleased to hear first hand the positive impact the bank has made to date. I was particularly encouraged by their plans for inclusive growth and sustainable development in Africa’s economies. This was the vision of the bank’s founding fathers.”

“Africa’s journey to prosperity can only be achieved by supporting inclusive and sustainable projects. We must therefore congratulate and continue to support AfreximBank to deliver on this mandate,” he said. While underscoring the importance of trade among African countries, Buhari said no nation can survive on its own.

“Trading is important and the terms of trade are important.

Therefore, there is a need to ensure our national interests as well as our regional and international obligations are balanced. There is a need to ensure our national interests as well as our regional and international obligations are balanced,” he said. Digressing to the economic policy of his administration, the President told participants that his administration has adopted a policy of inclusive economic growth.

“We are determined to attain this by reducing our over reliance on crude oil. To date, we have invested aggressively in infrastructure to support our growth potential in agriculture and solid minerals.

We are also empowering many Nigerian entrepreneurs in the entertainment and digital economies to mention a few.

“Our government stands to enable those who can help themselves but is equally committed to supporting those who can’t. This is why we introduced our Social Investment Program which is changing lives through, school feeding, conditional cash transfers and youth employment, among others.” In his opening remarks, AfreximBank President/ CEO Dr. Benedict Oramah announced the creation of Africa’s Export Development Fund (FUNFED) ,a specialised institution, a fully owned subsidiary of Afrexim Bank.

The objective of the FUNFED, he explained, is to contribute towards expanding the share of manufactured and service exports in Africa’s total exports by attracting appropriate FDI flows into those dynamic sectors. According to him, Afrexim Bank’s initial investment commitment in the FUND amounts to 100 million US dollars which is expected to attract additional investments to bring funds under management to 1 billion US dollars in the near term.

“Revenues grew strongly by 25 percent to 645 million US dollars, driven by healthy interest income on average assets of about 14 billion US dollars, of which  about 70% were loans and advances. Net income as a result rose by 34 percent to reach a new record high of 220 million US dollars.

“And despite the fact that loans dropped by 18 percent at year- end following the repayment of about 3.2 billion in Countercyclical Trade Liquidity Facility loans, that fell due in December. Non-performing loans ratio only rose marginally from 2.4 percent to 2.5 percent,” he said.

 

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