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LCCI seeks integration, bilateral trade to improve 12% Africa’s GDP

DILEMMA

Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) face protocol challenges

 

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said that only the economic integration and bilateral trade among Nigeria and other countries could improve the abysmal 12 per cent Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It noted that economic integration would play a vital role in the realisation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement initiative in the continent.

 

The Director-General of LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, said in an interview on the upcoming 2022 Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) in Lagos that AfCFTA was a key trade agreement the chamber would be exploring to bring together various exhibitors and investors within the continent to boost trade and GDP despite the challenges trailing the protocols agreements.

 

She stressed that the chamber was not satisfied with the penetration of trade among the African countries, which had been responsible for the 12 per cent continental GDP trade, saying that LCCI was looking forward on the benefits of AfCFTA that could only be achieved via trade and economic ties.

 

Almona said that both foreign and local exhibitors had signified their interests to participate in this year’s Lagos International Trade Fair expected to hold from Friday November 4 to Sunday 13, at the Tafawa Belewa Square, Lagos, which was all about connecting businesses and creating value.

 

On whether LCCI is satisfied with the AfCFTA penetration in the continent, she said: “Well, as a chamber, we are looking towards the benefits of AfCFTA. It is a key initiative to help in bringing the entire African trade and we are looking at enhancing that benefits and help boost across Africa’s economy via the Lagos international trade fair.

 

“However, you can see that after months of signing the  trade agreement, it hasn’t taken off fully, because there are still challenges around finding balance within the protocols in AfCFTA, which is why, at the chamber, we want to take the lead in this discussion, we want to answer that by attracting other countries to Nigeria to help that discussions of collaboration among African countries.

 

“Last year, because of COVID- 19, it didn’t take-off fully, we have downturns in the African hall. But now, with COVID relaxation and companies opening up, we see that this year, there will be lots of African countries at the Lagos International Trade Fair.

 

So, our exhibitors will be happy to see a new improved African Hall because when Africans come together, they want to showcase their goods and services and we have proposed actual trade and commerce across Africa.”

 

In his own submission, the Vice President and Chairman, Trade Promotion Board of LCCI, Leye Kupoluyi, an engineer, said that the chamber intended to involve Afreximbank, Nigerian EXIM Bank and other renowned finance institutions to stimulate trade and investment growth in this year’s Lagos International Trade Fair.

 

He said: “Through the years and the ones we have done, we involved the finance houses within Africa, which is Afreximbank, we involved Nigerian EXIM Bank and that is where we involved the United Kingdom and many other organisations that have their affiliates in different countries in Africa.

 

I can assure you that this year, we have about 18 African countries that already show interest to participate in the Lagos trade fair to come to Nigeria. Just as you know, Nigeria is the centre of Africa, not just because of our size, but our location. That is our aim and that is why we are emphasising Africa Hall.”

 

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