The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, has has urged government regulatory agencies to focus on streamlining border processes, lowering trade barriers, and implementing harmonised standards and regulations in advance of the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The minister stated at the opening of the Onboarding Business/Exporters Workshop on AfCFTA-Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) in Abuja, which was organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the AfCFTA Coordinating Office, that by investing in modern trade infrastructure such as transportation networks and digital platforms, Nigeria can create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and compete globally.
The AfCFTA, according to Adebayo, recognises the crucial role that the private sector plays in fostering economic development and empowers businesses of all sizes to fully take advantage of the advantages provided by the continental trade initiative. It aims to facilitate and enhance trade activities by giving businesses and exporters the necessary tools, knowledge, and support.
He identified value addition and industrialisation, skills development and capacity building as well as trade facilitation and logistics as three priority aspects that would guide Nigerian businesses under the AfCFTA as the country accelerate the implementation of the historic trade deal.
In his remarks, Executive Director/Chief Executive, NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak, said the workshop jointly organised by the council and the AfCFTA Coordinating Office, couldn’t have come at a better time in view of the declaration by the Heads of State and Government of the Year 2023 as the year for the acceleration of AfCFTA implementation.
He said the programme was aimed at enlightening, educating, networking and test-running the agreement on select companies from Nigeria, stressing that the key objective was to kick-start the process of preparing Nigerian exporters/businesses for onboarding to the GTI.
Yakusak, noted that NEPC as the apex organisation for the development and promotion of non-oil export was strategically positioned to assist in providing the right platform for Nigerian companies to gain access to major markets, especially in Africa in line with the objectives of AfCFTA.
He noted that of the top 10 importers of Nigerian products, no African/ECOWAS country made it to the top 10 list.
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