rica’s biggest economy has belatedly agreed to join a huge free trade agreement aimed at boosting manufacturing across the continent.
Nigeria will sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) at a summit of theAfrican Unionthat starts in Niger on July 7, the Nigerian presidency announced on its official Twitter account late on Tuesday.
“Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations. Economic progress is what makes the world go around. Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in the statement posted on Twitter
It aims to bring all 54 members of the African Union (AU) together in a single market of 1.2billion people by removing trade barriers such as tariffs across Africa.
The deal is expected toboost regional tradeand allow companies to expand and enter new markets. Manufacturing industry currently accounts for onlyabout 10%of the African Union’scombined GDPof $3.4 trillion and the trade deal could make the sector more competitive and productive.
South Africa and Cameroon are among52 countriesthat have already signed up to AfCFTA. ButNigeria had refusedto commit, saying it needed to consult with domestic stakeholders before making a decision.
Nigeria wasinitially worriedthat by exposing its manufacturers to greater competition, the deal could force some of them out of business and drive up unemployment.
But after reviewing an impact assessment of the trade agreement in June, Buhariagreedto come on board.