The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has expressed worry over the position of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) on the issues raised after its nationwide stakeholders’ engagements and sensitization campaign.
The group stressed, that it could be “misleading and more importantly, may not put Nigeria in good stead and could inexorably put the nation in a disadvantaged position if or when the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commence”.
President of MAN, Frank Jacobs also commended the AfCFTA and the benefits for Nigeria if it is properly negotiated, stating that the market access for exporting Nigerian products will be huge.
“We are now even more worried that, in spite of the widespread concerns that necessitated Mr President’s reservation of his signature at the Summit in Kigali, the subsequent activities of the NOTN was not tailored towards addressing those concerns. Rather than squarely addressing those critical issues, all efforts were geared towards extolling the laudable objectives of the AfCFTA, its potential benefits and what Nigeria is expected to benefit from its implementation. This is rather simplistic and cannot be the way to go”.
Jacobs lauded the DG of NOTN but raised concerns over the allegiance, acting as the Director General of NOTN “Chief Negotiator’ and Chairman of AU-AfCFTA Negotiation Committee.
“Additionally, we are also worried that the Director General of NOTN “Chief Negotiator’ doubles as Chairman of AU-AfCFTA Negotiation Committee and may need to balance allegiance to both Nigeria and the AU-AfCFTA Negotiation Committee; as such, we implore the Federal Government to consider appointing a National Chief Negotiator that will be saddled with the responsibility of negotiating specifically for Nigeria”.
The association stated that Nigeria has a lot to lose if the agreement still remains shrouded in uncertainty, considering the fact that major concerns raised by stakeholders still remained unattended to.
“Right from the period preceding the Kigali Summit and up until now, the content of the Nigerian offer has remained unknown to manufacturers who are the number one stakeholders to be positively and or negatively impacted by the proposition. It is noteworthy to say here that MAN had requested for this vital information severally, including when the Chief Negotiator led his team to the MAN House as part of the consultation/sensitization programme”.
MAN also called on the government to urgently commission and conduct studies focused on Export Market Discovery, National Economic and Industrial Priority, the Impact of AfCFTA on the manufacturing sector in Nigeria.
“The starting point of an effective AfCTFA negotiation is the recommended studies, robust consultations and proper representation of manufacturing and the private sectors at all National and Continental AfCFTA negotiation meetings. This we believe would equip members of the Nigerian negotiating team with requisite data for the negotiations ahead”.
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