The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to put in place necessary measures to prevent the abuse of the signed African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the agreement on July 7 at the opening of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government, in Niamey, Niger Republic.
The decision to sign the pact followed recommendation from the Presidential committee set up to assess the impact of the trade pact on the economy.
The Director-General, MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir in a position paper on Tuesday said, “As the country commits to this, in addition to the President’s call for fair trade, we believe that the government will back her words with action by putting the necessary measures in place to prevent an abuse of the agreement.
“In addressing the issue of the country’s porous borders which encourage smuggling of foreign goods, there could not have been a better time to adopt technology-based border policing and surveillance to check abuse of the intra-Africa trade protocols and trade malpractices.”
He added, “Going forward, we count very strongly, on the commitment of the government to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector and indeed other economic actors to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the continental free trade area and to, quite importantly, mitigate the multifarious risks.
“The infrastructure challenges such as poor electricity supply, deplorable road network and lack of adequate transportation system (rail network) etc. that constitute the supply constraints should be removed.
“Needed policies to improve the macroeconomic environment should be put in place and existing ease of doing business initiatives strengthened, especially to lower cost.”
He said to aid the competitiveness of local manufacturers, the government should strongly address the issue of multiple taxation and over-regulation of the production sector which according to him, has added to the existing myriad of challenges.
MAN recommended that for an open trade arrangement in the nature of the AfCFTA, industries that would be negatively impacted by the influx of goods should be supported to invest in new areas and displaced labour re-trained to take on new employment or vocation.
The association suggested the establishment of a national action committee on the AfCFTA to coordinate the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government as well as relevant private sector groups to drive the implementation of the AfCFTA-readiness projects and initiatives.