Tag Archives: ECOWAS

LCCI reiterates call for Nigeria to ratify AfCFTA

 

 

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday restated its call for Nigeria to ratify the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

AfCFTA is a trade agreement designed by the African Union (AU), with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single currency union.

LCCI President, Babatunde Ruwase,  said at a press briefing organised by the chamber on the state of the nation’s economy in Lagos that it was the first step in the negotiation process.

AfCFTA was signed by 44 African countries in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, while Nigeria withheld its assent from the agreement at the 11th hour, citing lack of wide consultations with relevant stakeholders.

President Muhammadu Buhari had explained that the delay in Nigeria’s signing of the agreement was borne out of a desire to ensure that national interests, as well as regional and international obligations were balanced.

Ruwase said: “You will recall that the AfCTA has been contentious in the last couple of months. Nigeria did not just sign the agreement which held March 2018.

“As a result of the concerns raised by the stakeholders, Lagos Chamber of Commerce organised a stakeholders’ forum to discuss the matter.

“LCCI also participated in the forum organised by the Nigeria office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) headed by Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe.

“In all of these interactions, we have assurances that safeguard measures would be put in place to protect sensitive sectors of the economy, most of these are in the manufacturing sector.”

He said that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo also gave assurances at his quarterly interaction with the OPS that selected sectors of the economy would enjoy protection as impact study would be conducted.

In the light of the foregoing, our position is that we sign the agreement since signing is the only first step in the negotiation process.

“There will be subsequent protocols that need to be discussed and negotiated as they relate to specific sectors.

“It is also our understanding that adjustment can also be made as the process progresses,” the LCCI president said.

He said the entire process and integration arrangement should be viewed as a work in progress, noting that trade issues were not static, but dynamic.

Ruwase said: “It is important to be part of the process in order to influence the direction of the agreement and protect our interest.

“If we can be part of the ECOWAS, we believe that we can also be part of AfCFTA. The safeguard measures in ECOWAS can be replicated in the AfCFTA.

“The reality is that no economy can exist in isolation of other economies.”

He acknowledged that the economy was facing challenges in infrastructure, power and cost of doing business, saying government should sign, while putting measures in place to address the challenges.

“The totality of our economy is not about manufacturing.

“Manufacturing contributes about 12 per cent to GDP; we have services, financial institutions, distributive trade and creative industry, doing very well.

“We have more than manufacturing to offer the world. Let us look at the agreement holistically, because we have a lot to gain by being there,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), had also urged government to ratify the trade deal without delay.

However, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) had said that government should be circumspect on the decision to sign the AfCFTA, but await the outcome of a credible study that should guide its negotiations.

MAN said its concerns were yet to be addressed, stating that the recently conducted and launched study by the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) has still not addressed the lapses.

ActionAid, ECOWAS, stakeholders want improved safety measures on food

 

The ActionAid Nigeria, the ECOWAS Commission and stakeholder in the agriculture sector, have called on various governments to ensure proper sanitary measures on local and exportable produce to improve food safety.

The stakeholders said this in a communiqué at the end of a two-day Consultative Meeting on 2019 Agriculture Budget on Wednesday and signed by Mr Azubike Nwokoye, Coordinator, Food and Agriculture Programme, ActionAid Nigeria in Abuja.

It said that poor food safety and phyto-sanitary measures had been identified with some Nigerian agricultural commodities including yams and beans.

The stated that there was the need for the Federal Government to channel more of its agricultural investments to the production of locally fabricated simple farm machines.

It noted that locally fabricated farm implement would match the soil requirement of Nigerian agro-ecological zones and be easily accessible to smallholder farmers.

“Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures and general food safety issues have been identified with some Nigerian agricultural export commodities such as yam and beans.

“It is important that food safety issues for both domestic consumption and export markets are improved upon.
“The 2019 and subsequent years agriculture budget should be gender sensitive.

“The sector should invest more in locally fabricated simple farming machines according to the soil requirements of Nigerian agro-ecological zones which the smallholder farmers can easily access and manage,’’.

The stakeholders while commending the government for the continuous increase of agriculture budgets since 2016, said there was need to increase the percentage of agriculture budget to hit 10 per cent provided by the Maputo/ Malabo declarations by 2019.

According to the communique, farmers especially smallholder women farmers who produce over 60 per cent of food consumed in Nigeria are not currently involved in the agriculture budgeting processes.

It said that there was no formal strategy to involve women farmers and this had resulted in untapped potential of women farmers and the attendant low agricultural productivity in the country.

The stakeholders in the communique called for adequate monitoring of the implementation of agriculture projects by relevant stakeholders.

It said that stakeholders from Oxfam, Nigeria, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environment and Water Resources, Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), attended the meeting.

Others are representatives from the Association of Small-Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN); the media, academia, Research & Finance Institutes as well as other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).