Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State General Meeting (CHOGM) Business forum in Rwanda this month, African countries, including Nigeria, are expected to chart the way forward on the challenges posing risk to the continent’s $400 billion real income in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The CHOGM Business Forum is necessary as it will provide the platform and avenue for member-state in AfCFTA to assess the bottlenecks that could hinder the realisation of $400 billion income that is expected from the continent’s trade pact in the coming years Olasupo Shasore, Partner, Africa Law Practice NG & Co (ALP NG & Co) Commonwealth Enterprises Investment Council (CWEIC), in an interview with New Telegraph, said there were surmountable challenges surrounding the content’s common market. He said they were key for African countries to come under one umbrella for the good of the 1.2 billion population that is estimated to be $2.2 trillion in revenue for the African market. According to him, it has been very challenging for every business across the continent in the last 12 months, which have been difficult for every country amid COVID-19 impact. He said the coming of AfCFTA agreement was expected to improve trade in the continent, saying that it is 19 per cent cheaper for African countries to trade among one another.
The renowned lawyer explained that AfCFTA, which started in 2015 and concluded in 2019, had seen in 2020 about 36 countries signed, ratified and key into the agreement and only one non-committal country. Shasore said: “It’s good we all focus our minds to the enthusiasm this June in Rwanda during the forthcoming CHOGM Business forum. No doubt, it’s been a difficult 12 months for everybody in the business world, for people providing services, having to adapt to the pandemic and continue to provide services in a totally new changing world.
“But I guess one of the things we should all be proud of is AfCFTA agreement, which will be very rewarding for businesses in the continent of Africa. AfCFTA started in 2015 and concluded in 2019. By 2020, we had 36 countries that have signed, ratified and keyed into the agreement and 18 countries had signed anyway, and only one non-committal. “In a continent where the narrative is often driven to be negative, it’s quiet an achievement that African countries come together to bring about this common market for the good of the 1.2 billion people in this continent and to try and drive an economy that is estimated to be $2.2 trillion. “So, it’s encouraging and something African countries should be proud of and should be looking towards boosting their trade.”
Speaking further, Shasore noted that tariffs were of great concerns in the trade treaty as “many of the countries are looking towards revenue increasing from rates and charges and there will be this conflict between the aspiration to earn more revenue and reduction of trade codes for the benefits of Africa trade, which is one of the main objectives of the AfCFTA agreement.” On the malaise facing Af- CFTA protocols, he stressed: “I hope that the premises of this protocol will bear it in mind that intra-African trade should be paramount considerations with more individual country benefitting. “We are also looking towards how they will tackle the issue of investor trade disputes because African countries have not had fair trade in the world of trade treaty dispute.”