The Federal Executive Council has approved that Nigeria signs the agreement to establish a Continental Free Trade Area.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who revealed this to State House Correspondents said this was part of the resolutions reached at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
According to him, Nigeria played a great role in the negotiations that led to the decision by the African Union to establish a Free trade Zone for the continent.
Dr Enelamah said the agreement would be signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21st, at an extra-ordinary session of the AU.
“We discussed at the cabinet meeting today, the framework agreement for establishing the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). Now, that framework agreement had been worked on, not just by the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry but also by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice. The President also constituted a committee in February, 2017 that an inter-ministerial agency and organised private sector should work on it. All these had worked on it. What we did today was to secure federal approval for the stage we are now. In terms of what was approved in council today, the council approved for Nigeria to sign that agreement establishing CFTA in Kigali on March 21st which will be signed by our president at an extraordinary session of the AU,” he said.
He said the Council also directed Nigeria’s delegation to Kigali to lobby for the sighting of the secretariat of the Free Trade Area in Nigeria.
He said: “It also approved for Nigeria to express an interest in preparing a bid to host the secretariat where the work will be done. Nigeria has played a leadership role in the negotiations. Our chief negotiator and Director-General of the Nigerian office for trade negotiations was the chairperson of the negotiating technical team. Also the African Ministers for Trade and Group was chaired by me and so, if they played a leading role in this negotiation, we feel that it is better to lead than to follow. Therefore, we also got an approval to express an interest in the secretariat of CFTA, that the headquarters be located in Nigeria. Obviously, we are expecting it to be a competitive process but Nigeria will be interested. We also got an approval for the Nigerian office for trade negotiations along Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the private sector to work together and continue with the next stage of the negotiation. The first stage is the overall framework establishing CFTA. The next is the protocol on trade in goods and associated annexes; also a protocol on trade in services and finally, the protocol on rules and procedures for the settlement of disputes.”