NIGERIA AGREES TO JOIN AFRICA FREE TRADE ZONE
Nigeria’s Commitment a Significant Boost to the Bloc
Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa announced on Wednesday 3rd July that it was going to finally sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) at the coming African union summit.
The West African country was one of the three remaining countries that had not committed to the deal. Eritrea and Benin are the other two countries that have preferred not to join the zone.
Nigeria’s decision to join the bloc will significantly strengthen the zone’s influence owing to the former’s economic muscle. The aim of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is to eliminate tariffs between member states, creating a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than $2.2 trillion.
Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria, the biggest oil producing country in Africa, had expressed concern that the deal could threaten his country’s market by flooding it with low-priced goods from other countries.
Buhari argued that it would confound efforts to encourage the already struggling local manufacturing and farming.
The country had consequently set up a panel to evaluate the impact of joining the bloc and in turn recommended last week that the president “should consider joining.”
“Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis,” the Twitter feed quoted Buhari as saying.
The panel also added that the West African nation would sign onto the deal during the upcoming African Union summit in Niamey, Niger to be held on the 8th of July 2019. The agreement with the other signatories came into force on May 30.