Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has warned that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement entered into by Nigeria and some other African countries was not a magic wand for economic growth and prosperity. Osinbajo gave this caution yesterday in his keynote address at the virtual 61st Annual Conference of Nigerian Economic Society (NES) led by Prof. Sarah Anyawu, yesterday. Osinbajo said AfCFTA should rather be seen as a tool for the continent to negotiate with other parts of the world as a bloc to maximize benefits rather than deals separately endorsed by regional economic blocs. The Vice-President warned that African countries should not allow themselves to be lured into arrangements which do not serve their long-term developmental objectives.
Speaking further about how the agreement could bolster trade and development on the continent, Osinbajo said, “we must, of course, continue to bear in mind, especially here in Nigeria that the AfCFTA is not a magic wand that automatically brings about growth and prosperity.”
He said: “The reality is that if care is not taken, trade liberalization can expose the Nigerian economy to unfair competition and sharp trade practices, with adverse consequences for our producers who might have to close down their businesses, and for our workers who would then lose their jobs.
“Successful implementation of the AfCFTA requires financing to address various implementation challenges and to promote arrangements in support of integration. “For instance, in addition to making up for potential losses of tariff revenues, African countries will face implementation costs, including undertaking reforms, establishing new trade-related bodies, improving and upgrading existing facilities.”