With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) still struggling to take off properly, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has emphasised that the regional economic communities need to take appropriate steps to ensure a speedy and effective implementation of the continental trade agreement in order realise the $6.7 trillion revenue projection. Director-General of LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, in an interview, said there were still profound issues that are pos-ing risk to the success of Af- CFTA and that they need to be addressed by the regional economic communities like ECOWAS, COMENSALS, SAEC and others.
Yusuf said there was the need to urgently expedite the implementation of the agreement across the countries on the continent to ensure the realisation of the $6.7 trillion revenue projection. The LCCI DG noted that there were still issues bordering market size, economic size, diversity, supply chain opportunities, foreign exchange, trade policy, Customs, tariff difference, rule of origin and others needed to sort out and address the continental trade agreement. He explained that despite the take-off of AfCFTA, which has seen some countries having started to trade under the new trade protocol, many others, including Nigeria, were yet to commence trading on AfCFTA because much work remains to be done as critical parts of the agreement are yet to be finalised.
According to him, issues of schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights have not been concluded in the trade agreement. Yusuf said: “The issues around market size, economic size, diversity, supply chains opportunities and many more will be appreciated and good take aways for all participants in AfCFTA. “We also just need to recognise the reality and cost of AfCFTA varying from country to country.
“So, it is the function of our preparedness. As countries, it is a function of our competitiveness, it is the function of the quality of our infrastructure, the quality of our institutions and it is also the function of the policies we put in place. “We need to address some of these issues that could pose a risk to the success the AfCFTA. “Our trade policies are very important to be compatible with the objectives of AfCFTA. Many countries in Africa are still in protective moods and this has to changed. “Our foreign exchange policies also need to be compatible with what we want to achieve in the AfCFTA.
This is also a very important point that we need to stressed. “Many countries are still struggling with trade facilitation issues around the Customs, around the ports and these things are critical if we must make a success of the AfCFTA. “There are also imperative of reforms particularly of customs across the entire continent. “Customs in many countries have become a major source of frustration to trade and this again is something we have to take back and see how we can improving the quality of our customs services and making them more compatible and more supportive to what we seem to achieve in the AfCFTA. “The Rule of Origin is one of the biggest challenges we have faced at the sub regional economic levels. That is one thing we need quality institutions to eschew because it poses a major threat to the success of AfCFTA.”