A MAJOR financial diplomacy somersault by the Federal Authorities occurred final week when President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled his deliberate journey to Kigali, Rwanda, for the signing of the African Continental Free Commerce Settlement (ACFTA), already permitted by the Federal Govt Council, FEC. The settlement facilitates free commerce amongst all of the signatory nations.
The Ministry of Overseas Affairs had stated Buhari cancelled the journey so as “to permit extra time for inputs from Nigerian stakeholders.”
We now have no axe to grind with the Federal Authorities’s choice to carry again for now till we’re certain that our nationwide financial pursuits wouldn’t be mortgaged in appending our signature to the ACFTA. South Africa, our financial rivals on the continent, additionally kept away from signing it, probably to guard its personal pursuits. Each nation reserves the precise to look at any worldwide commerce pact fastidiously earlier than deciding to signal or not.
Our important grouse is the truth that the Federal Authorities had already permitted our full participation, and our President was already primed to attend earlier than we all of a sudden noticed the traps. We should always have consulted completely throughout the planning levels earlier than deciding. If we had been thorough in our preparations, we’d have saved ourselves the embarrassment of pulling again on the final minute.
The impulse to signal each worldwide instrument with out correct scrutiny for our nationwide curiosity has lured us into so many pacts which now we have did not implement. It’s common information that comparable agreements such because the World Commerce Organisation, WTO, had helped carry Nigeria’s manufacturing economic system to its knees, escalating unemployment within the nation.
Whereas we acknowledge the necessity for Nigeria’s merchandise to reap the benefits of a typical and bigger African market, it’s foolhardy to base such alternative on a presumed Africanness of the continental market. For certain, all markets in Africa are dominated by Euro-American and Asian merchandise that are by way more aggressive than Nigeria’s. The nation’s coverage executives ought to have identified this until they’re serving different pursuits.
Ought to Nigeria be keen to enter additional discussions on the ACFTA, we advise full consultations with the personal sector and different related stakeholders. Additionally, a clause on continental defend of protectionism towards superior economies in respect of regionally manufactured items ought to be built-in within the settlement. Nigeria’s ambition to re-industrialise will undergo significantly from dumping if we signal this pact blindly as a result of some African nations with bilateral ties to the developed economies of the EU and Asia can be utilized to torpedo our efforts at self-reliance.
Nigeria can nonetheless drive the method of a renegotiated ACFTA, however we should first guarantee it’ll give our merchandise a wholesome entry to the African market. In any other case, no deal.