The committee for the African Continental Free Trade Area has said that Nigeria will be participating fully in the agreement by the last quarter of 2023.
The secretary of the committee, Mr Francis Anatogu, in an exclusive telephone chat with on Monday, said that some trading documents were needed before Nigeria’s full participation.
He said the documents were currently going through gazetting processes.
“The update is that for us to begin, there are some trading documents that we now need to dissect.
“Those documents actually came last week, so they are still with the Customs. The gazetting processes will commence and once it is gazetted, it will be published.
“Just to be on the safe side, we will be participating this year – that is for sure. The trading documents have been issued and the gazetting process is ongoing in Nigeria and once that is done, trading can start.”
It will be recalled that the AfCFTA agreement has been tipped to create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating.
The pact connects 1.3bn people across 55 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $3.4trn. It has the potential to lift 30m people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures, experts have said.
Speaking on the fears that Nigeria might end up a dumping ground for other countries, the committee scribe said there was no African countries that had the capacity to supply all the Africans’ needs.
He said that 85 per cent of what Africans needed was imported from the rest of the world.
“I keep making this point all the time, under AfCFTA, there is no country in Africa that has the capacity to supply all that Africans need. We are importing 85 per cent of what we need from the rest of the world, from outside Africa.
“There might be surplus in some areas and deficit in other areas. For the strategic areas where Africa is importing billions, there is no African country that can fulfil that at the moment.”
According to him, “Some seven countries have started trading, but these are just trading to sustain things. But we are preparing. It is not about being the first to start, but we will make the best gains from it,” he noted.