The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has condemned the FGN’s lethargic will to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), noting that the country would be the biggest beneficiary of market integration on the continent.
The Fund said the benefits of joining the cartel far outweighed the country’s current fears.
Director of African Department at IMF, Abebe Aemro Salessie, who spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, in Washington DC, said that given the size of the Nigerian economy and the strength of its entrepreneurs, it has no reason to fear competition under an AfCFTA regime.
“From our perspective, we think that the AfCFTA will help the region integrate; it’s been the dream of our leaders dating back to independence days and we think that it’s a very important initiative. And beyond politics, it will have a positive impact economically on the continent,” he said.
Abebe noted that like all trade agreements and integration measures, there can be adverse effects which can be identified with policies introduced to address them.
“We have to look at the big picture. Coming to Nigeria specifically, we think that Nigeria will also benefit as the largest economy from joining the AfCTA and being a full participant of that. In my view, looking at how dynamic Nigeria is and looking at the business people you have, the wealth of talent and entrepreneurs that you have, I don’t think you have to fear anybody else in terms of competition.
On October 22, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated a Presidential Committee to assess the impact and readiness of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. However, the committee’s final report is still awaited, although many argue that there is already no time for Nigeria in AfCFTA.
AfCFTA was launched in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018, with the aim of creating an African single market, free movement of people and a common monetary union. Already 52 countries have signed the agreement, while 18 have ratified it. Nigeria remains one of three African countries that have not yet approved the project.
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