peakers at the just concluded Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria, MAJAN have held that Nigeria is not fully prepared for the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AFCFTA.
Managing Director/CEO of Mac-Manuel Global Logistics, who also doubles as the Vice President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr Emeka Enwelu, posited that many maritime stakeholders were not fully ready to take advantage of the opportunities provided by AFCFTA because of the low awareness creation and publicity.
He said “I believe government is not ready because the level of enlightenment is very low.
“Government has not done much in educating those concerned about this concept. Look at an important sector like maritime, nobody has reached out to licensed customs agents and other Industry players.
“Government signed AfCFTA when our land borders were still closed. It shows that we are not prepared. We
just entered into an important trade agreement without adequate preparation.
“The only things we have are the population and a large market.”
Enwelu wondered why such a huge continental business deal should be shrouded in secrecy, noting that it “ought to have been on the lips of everybody like Covid-19 is”.
He expressed delight at the efforts of MAJAN to bring topical issues to the front burner,saying
“I’m really impressed by the level of reportage and enlightenment MAJAN is giving the Industry. It is quite beneficial for the growth of the sector.
He commended the association for what it is doing in the maritime industry especially with regard to Apapa traffic gridlock and its toll on businesses, Investigative Journalism, and AfCFTA.
On his part, Registrar, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF Academy, Fwdr Francis Omotosho, informed that “Regional trade agreements vary depending on the level of commitment and arrangement among the member countries. It comes with internal rules that member countries must follow.
“These include removal of trade barriers; free movement of goods and services across the region; Customs Union of member countries must reduce trade barriers to enhance seamless cargo clearance; free import and export of resources must be allowed; member countries have to adopt a set of economic policies and use of one currency; regional integration must be encouraged. Investors who want to put money in developing countries must be protected against political risk”.
He maintained that
“AfCFTA has economic benefits, which include increase in foreign direct investments (FDI)and reduction in trade tariff.
The agreement he insists helps to remove trade barriers, boosts economic growth, creates jobs and paves the way for market
“AfCFTA is a flagship project of African Union Agenda 2063, a blueprint for attaining inclusive and sustainable growth.
On 20th December, 2019, in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the National Action Committee for Implementation of AfCFTA. The Federal Executive Council ratified Nigeria’s membership of AfCFTA on November 11, 2020 and it started in January 2021 as scheduled.
According to Omotosho, “The objectives are to create a single continental market for Made in African goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, paving the way for establishment of Continental Customs Union.
“When fully implemented, AfCFTA will eliminate tariffs on intra- businesses to trade within the continent and cater for growing African market.
AfCFTA is expected to lay the foundation for the establishment of a continental customs union.
“AfCFTA is to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
AfCFTA is to consolidate Africa into one trade area for entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers across the continent”.
In his remarks, the MAJAN President, Comrade Ray Ugochukwu assured that MAJAN would continue to engage relevant stakeholders with a view to enlighten the public through responsible reportage.
His words: “As journalists, our duty is to enlighten the masses through our reports. This is what MAJAN is doing as a group. Our maiden national Maritime Summit on ‘Apapa traffic gridlock’ is slated for next month, March 2021. We’re optimistic that our modest contribution towards addressing the nightmare Apapa gridlock has become, will yield good results”.
“The summit will provide a good platform for stakeholders, regulatory agencies and government departments involved, to proffer lasting solutions to the perennial gridlock at Apapa ports access roads.”
The MAJAN President, thanked the resource persons, who graced the occasion, including Dr Emeka Enebili, the Chief Host, among others. He said that MAJAN Roundtable is going to be a regular exercise going forward.