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Be Careful with Continental Free Trade Area(CFTA), Experts tell Buhari

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Trade and investment experts have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari not to append his signature to the proposed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement because of the likely negative impact on private businesses and the country’s economy in general.

Also , the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have also called on President Buhari  not to allow himself to be cajoled into signing the proposed bill.

According to the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, the probable outcome of the policy if given life may have a crippling effect on local businesses and attendant effects on jobs.

 “We have no doubt this policy initiative will spell the death knell of the Nigerian economy.” the NLC President submitted.

They expressed concern that the agreement which is aimed at liberating the African economy by creating a free trade Area for all 55-member states of the African Union (AU) may end up doing more harm than good because of the sensitivity of the policy and its possible negative impact on the country’s economy and private owned industries especially.

Dr John Isemede, an international trade expert and former Director General of Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce Industries Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMMA) says Nigeria will not really gain from the Tree Trade Area if the agreement is signed.

Isemede told newsmen in Lagos that many of Nigeria’s trade agreements had even worked to its disadvantage due to poor export capacity in non-oil and low industrial capacity

“There is a need to review trade agreements and policies at this time because most of the developed countries we see today grew by closing down their borders for a while.

“Take a look at AGOA for instance, for 10 years, only very few exporters have been able to export under the platform due to poor information and lack of proper documentation.

“We have rice mills and farms that are barely functioning, except for the new intervention of the UNIDO and Bank of Industry to empower farmers and this apparently is not enough.

He advised the Federal Government to look at the critical details involved in the agreement adding that there must be a balance between import and export for a country like Nigeria to benefit from any trade agreements.

Speaking to our correspondent, Mr. Emeka Nwasike Nwasike, an investment expert and CEO of Allied Trust Systems Limited said opening the borders of Nigeria will only expose local manufacturing industries in Nigeria which are struggling to survive to undue competition. He added that at a time when other countries are developing policies of protectionism for the growth and survival of its local industry, Nigeria cannot afford to jeopardize the growth of its local industries by allowing a free trade policy.

A leading Consultant and trainer in small business development, Mr. Henry Agbebire,  said with the high rate of importation from other regions into Africa, the region may soon become a strait for imports against local manufacturing which is a major driver of growth in any economy.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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