A Don, Dr Ovat Oyama, says the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) by Nigeria will boost Africa’s contribution to global trade.
He said Africa’s contribution to global trade was below 10 percent.
Oyama, who lectures Economics at the University of Calabar, Southern Nigeria, told source on Tuesday in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, that ACFTA, as a new economic bloc, would liberalize intra-African trade.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buahri signed the agreement at the Africa Union (AU) summit held in Niger on July 7, 2019.
AfCFTA is to bring together all 55 member states of the African Union to a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than 3.4 trillion U.S dollars.
According to the AU, the agreement will create the world’s largest free trade area and lead to about 60 percent boost in intra-African trade by 2022.
A research by African Development Bank showed that only 16 percent of international trade by African countries takes place among African countries.
So far, 54 countries have ratified the agreement except Eritrea.
Oyama said that the agreement would enable member countries to harmonize their tariffs and have a common front on development.
The lecturer noted that since free trade agreements are designed to cut trade tariffs, member countries would have access to a market of over a billion people.
“A billion people are a huge market that will lure any investor to invest his money and make good returns within few years.
“The continent enormous population and its resources are huge assets for any foreign investor not to look the other way, considering its prospect,” he said.
Oyama advised the Federal Government to explore the opportunity by improving on the country’s ease of doing business and sustain its infrastructure development agenda to put Nigerian businesses at a vantage position.
“The government should review downward the time lag for acquiring export papers in order to boost export.
“Vital infrastructure such as rail network and major international roads should be built close to neighbouring countries to ease trade facilitation,” he said.
Amaka E. Nliam