Why Stakeholders Want Businesses To Explore Opportunities In AfCFTA

Stakeholders have highlighted reasons why businesses should explore the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to grow their business and ensure economic growth.

During a webinar monitored in Abuja, they said that the agreement had the potential to help businesses to grow and bring about foreign direct investments.

National Action Committee on AfCFTA Executive Secretary Francis Anatogu said the objective of the agreement was to enhance competitiveness and promote industrial development.

Anatogu, who explained this at the fourth Symposium of Issuers and Investors Alternative Dispute Resolution Initiative (IIADRI), said the agreement was also to facilitate movement of capital and investment.

Anatogu added that the agreement would help in policies harmonisation to make things easier for exporters.

He said that although the opportunities in AfCFTA were huge, Africa’s trade was only two to three per cent of global trade.

”At the National Action Committee, we identified seven goals that we must do to make us ready to trade in AfCFTA.

“We must produce what we export, we need the right business environment, regulation and laws to be business and export friendly.

“Businesses are already taking advantage of this, we will navigate the challenges to be able to trade.

“We cannot say that we are 100 per cent ready but we need to get started.

”The time to get in is now,” he said.

Mr Olufemi Babem, Partner, Tax Regulatory and Peoples Services, KPMG in Nigeria, said that AfCFTA would help to guarantee access to an expanded market.

He said that AfCFTA had the potential to reduce cost of production and attract new investments.

Babem noted that the key initiatives in businesses were implementation of cost optimisation and sustainable operations strategies.

“Myth around the AfCFTA is that membership is a silver bullet for economic growth; non-existence of borders suggests removal of regulatory checks.

“All local companies would benefit from AfCFTA,’’ he said.

The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Chinyere Almona, said that businesses needed to be ready to take advantage of the benefits embedded in the agreement.

Almona, represented by Mr Sunny Micheal, said, ”we can’t ignore the trade”.

Mr Moses Igbrude, IIADRI Chairman, said that the symposium was to address the numerous complaints raised by corporate organisations on the AfCFTA.

”Our desire is to find out how we can via the platform of the symposium enable  private companies in the export value chain, SMEs, governments to be on the same page as regards what needs to be done.

He said the symposium would give opportunity to all stakeholders to dialogue and articulate ways to foster mutual and better understanding.

Igbrude said that part of the group’s core objective was to promote and encourage stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market and the general economy to tap into the opportunities offered by AfCFTA.