The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African Union to expeditiously finalise pending negotiations for effective implementation of the AfCFTA.
President, LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje made the call at the first edition of the Chamber’s 2021 quarterly press conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
Mabogunje listed the areas to be smoothened out to include schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights.
According to her, there still exists a lack of clarity on the type of value addition that must occur within an AfCFTA state party for a product to benefit from tariff reduction.
She, however, said the chamber considered the operationalisation of AfCFTA as a step in the right direction in deepening economic integration in Africa.
“For Nigeria, the trade agreement serves as avenue for local industries to penetrate new markets and establish strong cross-border supply chains with other African countries.
“We believe the benefits and costs of the agreement will not be evenly distributed among participating countries and only countries with open, friendly, and enabling operating environment stand to benefit materially from the agreement.
“This underscores the need for policymakers to expeditiously create an enabling environment that would enhance the country’s economic competitiveness in the AfCFTA framework.
“While the take-off of AfCFTA should be lauded, much work remains undone as critical parts of the agreement are yet to be finalized.
“Several key issues require the AfCFTA Secretariat and the African Union to expeditiously finalize pending negotiations for effective AfCFTA implementation.
“There is still a great deal of sensitisation and enlightenment that need to be done on the implementation modalities,” she said.
Continental trading under the AfCFTA started on Jan. 1, a historic milestone for Africa to start commercial business within the continent.
The AU’s 54 Member States have signed, and 30 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification of the pact with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single market for goods and services, facilitate the movement of persons, promote industrial development and sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic growth, and resolve the issue of multiple membership, in accordance with agenda 2063.
It also lays a foundation for the establishment, in future, of a Continental Common Market.
The AfCFTA aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc Africa, a new opportunity to develop its own value chains.
According to the World Bank, it could lift millions of African people out of povery by 2035.