Thursday, September 24, 2020 / 01:50PM /Ecobank
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has reiterated that Ecobank remains the gateway financial institution for African regional trade. Akinwuntan who was speaking at the Ecobank Digital Series virtual Africa Trade Conference 2020 titled: 'Facilitating Regional Trade in the emerging AfCFTA Era' maintained that Ecobank, the pan - African bank was set up to be the leader in intra-Africa trade, adding that leveraging on its knowledge, footprint and digital payment platforms, the bank is set to lead the financial services support for the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
According to him, "while intra Africa trade provides opportunity for the growth of our economy in Africa, Ecobank is 'the go to bank' for Africa regional trade". He stressed that the Ecobank Regional Trade conference was designed to "primarily explore the massive trade opportunity before us in Africa, particularly after the pandemic. Ecobank decided to set the agenda for Africa to take its place in global trade. The opportunity is massive: withmarket size of 1.2 billion, estimated GDP of $2.5 billion, Africa free trade area is the largest since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO); more than 65 member states across the African union, population to reach 2.5 billion by 2050".
lso speaking, Executive Director/ Chief Executive, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said with a market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of $3 trillion, there is huge potential for Nigeria to increase its export to Africa. According to him, most exports had been informal exports but with platforms, like Ecobank, it is going to be official and add real value to the economy. He said in 2018, the export value of Nigeria to Africa totaled around $6.99 billion but its export to the rest of the world totaled $45.92 billion. However, Nigeria export is majorly crude oil and natural gas which constitute 91%.
Speaking on "International trade, the pan African perspective", Tei Konzi, Commissioner, Trade, customs and free movement, ECOWAS, represented by Kolawale Sofola, Acting Director, Trade ECOWAS said 85 % of our products go outside the continent and this must be changed. "We can bring these trade back to Africa and increase activity in the continent in agriculture, mining amongst others. We are yet to conclude our tariffs, but at the moment, ECOWAS trade more with outside countries than it does with African countries and this is why we are bent on making sure the AfCFTA succeeds".
He noted that the AfCFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement that seeks to create a single market for goods and services and free movement of persons through the progressive liberation of the market for goods and services and also contribute to the movement of capital to facilitate investment. He said it is meant to be the foundation of continental customs union at a later stage.
The Ecobank Nigeria 'Africa Trade Conference 2020' which is part of the Ecobank Digital Series is to showcase
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