AfCFTA: Supportive policies key to market access –Manufacturers

 6th June 2024


The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has pointed out that for manufacturers to  gain market access  and  reap maximum benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, it needs  supportive policies that would aid its growth in all ramifications.

More  than two years after trading started on the AfCFTA platform on January 1, 2021, manufacturers in Nigeria are yet to maximise the full benefits of the agreement, owing to myriad of  challenges that have halted the operators from  taking their products to neighbouring African countries.

Early this year, Nigeria was enlisted among the 14 countries to commence the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) Scheme for pilot trading.

GTI was launched in September 2022 to matchmake businesses and products for export and import between interested state parties that have met the minimum requirements for trade under AfCFTA.

The formal exportation of locally produced commodities from Nigeria to South Africa, Rwanda, Cameroon and Kenya  was to begin in April on the platform of the GTI.

However, Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Olusegun Awolowo, who made the disclosure, noted that though trading under AfCFTA was yet to start, the secretariat of the programme has introduced the GTI for some countries to start trading.

“We haven’t started trading in AfCFTA as we are still going through the protocols. But recently, the AfCFTA secretariat itself launched the GTI to get some countries to start trading outside their regional blocs.”

Despite the introduction, Nigeria is yet to start trading its local products, due to several issues.

Nigerian manufacturers have consistently lamented over various factors that have constrained the competitiveness of the sector, warning that without tackling them, the country will be at a disadvantage under the continental trade pact.

Director General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said the manufacturing sector has not had the microeconomic and infrastructure support needed for growth and the ability to compete.

“We now have AfCFTA that gives us the opportunity to compete around the African continent. But if we are not competitive and we cannot grow the sector within the country, your guess is as good as mine as to the milage in terms of market access that we should be able to enjoy.

“So, I believe the manufacturing sector has good growth prospects, but it needs supportive policies that would aid its growth in all ramifications.

“What local manufacturers are yearning for are supportive policies that will aid the growth and competitive capacity of the country’s industrial sector in all ramifications,” he added.

He lamented that  the Nigerian manufacturers’ competitiveness in the global trading environment has declined due to the multitude of challenges setting the sector backwards, urging government to come to the rescue of the sector.

In her comment, Chairman of MAN Export Promotion Group (MANEG), Mrs. Odiri Erewa-Meggison, queried how exports can compete on a global scale without a deliberate intervention from the government.

“How can exports compete on a global scale without a deliberate intervention from the government? All hands need to be on deck.

“Exporters need deliberate interventions such as access to loans at right rates, support with eliminating administrative bottlenecks and multiple regulatory checks by different regulators. A consolidated or harmonized regulatory approach would be preferred.”

On his part, Chairperson of the Export Group of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Bosun Solarin, said: “When people have found a way to come into business through export, they are confronted with so many bottlenecks, bad policies and insecurity.

“If we don’t pay attention to security, if we don’t pay attention to interest rate so that the productive sector can get money to do business, if we don’t pay attention to logistics, so that people can even move their products with ease, then we have not started.

“Nigeria is signing off for the guided trade of AfCFTA very soon and logistics is a problem to even move things.”


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