AfCFTA: Opportunities for Nigeria's National Development - Desmond Guobadia

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Friday, October 04, 2019 / 07:30AM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: Bizcommunity


Mr. Desmond Guobadia, Chairman of the Presidential Technical Committee on the AFCFTA, recently gave insight into the opportunities for Nigeria within the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Speaking at a recent conference hosted by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Abuja, Mr. Guobadia emphasized the enormous potential for continental non-oil exports if the domestic economic environment is calibrated to promote competitive domestic production.

Guobadia argued that the AFCFTA  could be catalyst for industrial production and growth. He believed that the AfCFTA offered Nigerian products and services, preferential access to a large African market,  which currently sources over 85% of its imports from outside the continent.

According to Guobadia Preferential market access to Africa is particularly important to Nigeria, as lack of access to foreign markets has been a key constraint to the export of Nigeria's non-oil products to Africa and the globe.

Speaking further, he stressed that the continental trade agreement provides huge opportunities for manufactured products including Nigeria's priority export products defined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP,  and the National Industrial Revolution Plan, that supports backward integration, both of which will create a significant number of new jobs across skill levels.

"It provides immense opportunities for Nigeria's service companies to expand to Africa, especially those in the financial services, e-commerce and the digital economy, where Nigerian companies have built critical capacity and have long desired to expand to Africa but have  had to contend with trade barriers which AfCFTA will remove," Guobadia said.

He was of the view that Nigeria should harness the huge opportunity that the AfCFTA offers, with robust and enforceable safeguards against the risk of abuse of rules of origin and smuggling.

Mr. Guobadia added that Nigeria could also utilize the opportunity of the AfCFTA to grow her local service capacity in education, health, and transportation to tackle the huge deficit in its balance of trade in services with the world.

"Nigeria has built significant capacity and competitive advantage in financial services, so the sector's contribution of $1.7bn ($1.35bn import and $0.36bn exports) or 5% of total services export, this points to spare capacity which can applied to Africa," He said.

 

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