The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Dr Frank Udemba Jacobs, said MAN believes that Nigeria may become a big player and key driver of improved volume of intra-African trade in an African Free Trade Area with the right market offer mix, rules of origin, countervailing measures, dispute settlement mechanism, non-tariff and technical barriers provisions, amongst other protocols and annexures.
Address a press conference recently on matters arising on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) & outcome of the launch of an independent study on the potential benefits of AFCFTA by NOTN held on July 24, 2018 at MAN House, Ikeja, Lagos, Dr Jacobs revealed saying “Two necessary components of this requirement are the conclusion of a nationwide inclusive consultations by Nigerian Office Trade Negotiations (NOTN) and positive outcome of a credible study that would reveal the potential impact of the agreement on the Nigerian economy. This is a clear demonstration of the commitment of His Excellency to the growth of the manufacturing sector; the preservation of the service sector, improvement of the wellbeing of citizenry and the advancement of the Nigerian economy, he noted.
Our position is that the Federal Government may withhold signing the AfCFTA framework on the following grounds : No credible country specific study to show the potential impact of the AfCFTA; No specific attention was given to determine the cost and benefit analysis of the agreement; the sectors/sub-sectors that would benefit or be worse off as a result of the Agreement are unknow and No clear-cut recommendation on strategies that Government would adopt to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector to compete effectively.
MAN President said Association has since March to date call for or demanded answers to the following vital questions from those urging government to sign:
- What would be the impact of AfCFTA on the nation’s tax structure, Government revenue and the welfare of over 180million Nigerians?
- What will become of the industrialization and economic development aspirations of Nigeria?
- What would be the fiscal and monetary implications of AfCFTA on Nigeria?
- What are the justifications for agreeing to the proposed movement of 90% of tariff lines to 0% duty?
- What would become of non-tariff charges, levies, incentives, waivers and exemptions currently operational in Nigeria?
- What will be the fiscal implications of AfCFTA on the income of Governments and Regional Economic Communities?
- How will non-tariff charges viz-a-viz non-African countries be treated under the AfCFTA regime?
- What is the most ideal time frame for the gradual but progressive movement of 90% of tariff line to 0% duty?
- Which product lines have been agreed for liberalization, to be on exclusion and sensitive list?
“Interestingly, this is almost four months, our (MAN) concerns are yet to be addressed and we are still waiting for answers to these questions. We know that the responses to these key questions are predominantly work in progress.
He cited example of how NOTN recently conducted and launched a study, the stakeholders are still considering the study in view of the observed glaring lapses. It is worrisome to observe that the study failed to address the concerns of manufacturers. More so is the fact that the outcome of the NOTN sponsored independent study on the potential benefits of AfCFTA on Nigeria fell short of standards and lack the much-needed information required to take an informed decision.
“MAN has since commissioned a study and we expect to have the report about a month from now.”
“In the light of recent developments, we (MAN) considered it necessary to intimate you (the stakeholders) that an insignificant number of non-real sector operators in the Private Sector are tactfully recommending that Mr President should sign the agreement under the camouflage that majority of Nigerians and the Organised Private Sector agrees with their position. They are essentially not at home with the technicalities of a trade agreement of this magnitude. The pronouncement of this group of actors is not representative of the views of the Organized Private Sector of Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to report that the Presidents of the Organized Private Sector at its meeting yesterday had in attendance the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association and the National Association of Small Scale Industries. They affirmed that our country should be circumspective on the decision to sign the AfCFTA and that we should await the outcome of a credible study that should guide our negotiations. Although, NASME could not attend the meeting, it is equally supportive of the position of the OPSN
“For the avoidance of doubt, we again request that Mr President should not sign the AfCFTA agreement until the outcome of a credible study so indicate, but graciously allow the nation’s team to resume participation in the negotiation processes ONLY to ensure that the country is abreast of developments. This will certainly not jeopardise or constrain the reservation of our assent, should we eventually decide that the Agreement is definitely not in our favour. It will only mean that, whilst keeping our eyes on the goings-on, we can continue with our much needed and sovereign path to determine whether we should sign-on or not.
The Caption Photo: The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Dr Frank Udemba Jacobs,