Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that one of the ways Africa can maximize profits is to ensure that trade negotiations with the rest of the world are based on the free trade agreement.
The vice president said the continent should explore the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in trade discussions rather than agreements backed separately by regional economic blocs.
Osinbajo spokesman Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja, said the vice president delivered a keynote address at the 61st annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES) on Friday.
The theme of the virtual event is “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in the Post-COVID-19 Era: What’s Next for Nigeria?”
“An important objective of the AfCFTA is to overcome the economic fragmentation of the continent by uniting the regional economic blocs in a common arrangement.
“This being the case, African countries should seek to negotiate trade agreements with other parts of the world on the basis of the AfCFTA rather than through arbitrarily designed regional blocs.
“African countries should not be swayed by agreements that do not serve their long-term development goals.
“Of course, we must continue to keep in mind, especially here in Nigeria, that the AfCFTA is not a magic wand that automatically generates growth and prosperity.”
“The reality is that if care is not taken, trade liberalization can expose the Nigerian economy to unfair competition and aggressive business practices, with adverse consequences for our producers who may have to close their businesses and for our workers who would later lose. their works.”
According to him, successful implementation of the AfCFTA requires funding to address various implementation challenges and promote agreements in support of integration.
He said that in addition to offsetting potential losses in tariff revenue, African countries would face implementation costs, including carrying out reforms, establishing new trade bodies, and upgrading and upgrading existing facilities.
“Finding the resources to carry out these activities at a time like this when we lack fiscal space will, of course, be very difficult for Nigeria and other African countries.
“Therefore, our economists should help find innovative financing solutions for our economies.
“In addition to reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and mitigating its effect on the national economy, Nigeria must have an interest in promoting an AfCFTA that catalyzes regional value chains, enables the free movement of people, attracts investment and improves continental payments. system.
“As we seek to seize opportunities, we must remain alert to the need to create conditions that allow our businesses to compete and prosper within the AfCFTA.
We can no longer plan without fully considering the AfCFTA; all planning and budgeting documents must take this into account.
“This explains why the current ERGP successor plan has AFCFTA as an important reference,” he said.
On the federal government’s $ 2.3 trillion stimulus package, Osinbajo said the plan was designed to mitigate the impact, address vulnerabilities, create and protect jobs, as well as rescue businesses and reposition the economy.
NES President Professor Sarah Anyanwu in her comment praised both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President.
According to her, Osinbajo is a friend of society because he understands economic development.
The event attracted a host of prominent Nigerian economists.