May 25, 2019   An open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on AfCFTA On behalf of organizations representing businesses, workers, and entrepreneurs from around the country, we congratulate you on your re-election as President and Commander –in- chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria and also retaining your seat as the ECOWAS Chairperson and African Union (AU) first ever anti-corruption champion in Africa.   We  are aware the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in March 2018, approved the signing of the AfCFTA, but you declined at the last minute to attend the African Union (AU) meeting in Kigali, Rwanda to sign. That FEC approval is yet to be reversed. However we appreciate your adherence to the resolution of the 29th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, that decided and called upon AU member states “To undertake nationwide stakeholders’ sensitization activities so that all citizens of African countries are fully aware and own the process of establishing the Continental Free Trade Area.   We also commend you for implementing the resolution of the 6th Meeting of African Union Ministers of Trade held in Dakar on the 4th June, 2018 by formalizing and inaugurating the Presidential Committee on AfCFTA Impacts Assessment and Readiness into a National AfCFTA Consultative and Coordinating Mechanism with all the stakeholders (the private sector) so properly constituted and institutionalized for effective public private sector dialogue and monitoring.   We urge governments to build on the progress achieved so far and implement the several reports placed before You Mr. President especially the Impact and readiness report to enable you attend and sign the AfCFTA during the AU Summit billed for Niamey, Niger in July 2019.   We are conscious that the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 21 March 2018 at a Summit of the African Union held in Kigali, Rwanda, is a great leap forward for Africa’s regional integration efforts. We remember the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 ignited the vision of regional integration. However, it was only in the early 1980s that the vision of regional integration was given substantive meaning by the first executive secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa, Adedeji Adebayo – a great Nigerian intellectual who recently passed away. His influential leadership led to the launch of the Lagos Charter in 1975 and the Lagos Plan of Action in 1980. The Lagos Plan of Action called for the integration of the continent based on “self-reliance, endogenous development and industrialization. Mr. President sign the AfCFTA to honour him   We are very proud to say that Ten years later, the OAU adopted the Abuja Treaty (June 1991). The treaty set out a step-by-step approach to regional integration in Africa with the creation of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as ECOWAS, SADC and the EAC.   We wish to remind Mr. President and the government of Nigeria that the implementation of the Abuja Treaty is a process that will be done in 6 stages over 34 years. Signing of the AfCFTA by Nigeria is simply in compliance with stage 4 and 5 of the Abuja Treaty. Thus the Abuja treaty is still in force and Nigeria cannot back out but rather take deliberate step to promote structural transformation and competitiveness of the Nigerian private sector to integrate into the regional and global value chains.   We are aware that several studies undertaken by economic researchers predict that the AfCFTA has the potential to increase growth, raise welfare and stimulate industrial development on the continent however, there are concerns that some countries particularly, the smaller and more vulnerable economies may experience the negative impacts of premature liberalization and fiscal revenue losses. While others have argued that the major beneficiaries of the AfCFTA will be those economies in Africa that have the capacity to expand their exports of goods and services into the rest of the continent. These include companies mainly from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt   We commend our trade officials both home and abroad for engaging in good faith negotiations on the practical implications of the AfCFTA on our economic growth established during the sensitization and stakeholder engagements. Nigeria has now become a model for providing a unique opportunity to clarify and improve the existing framework of trade rules and commitments around trade facilitation, services, digital trade, transparency and trust to improve the ability of businesses of all sizes and across all industries to benefit from the continental trade marketplace and realize the potential of developmental regionalism.   We therefore call on Mr. President to sign without delay to boost the confidence of African countries who continually look on to us for leadership and direction and to protect our ever exploring citizens who are anxious and determined to explore the African through legitimate means and market access opportunities guaranteed under our trade negotiation instruments in other to avoid xenophobic attacks and discriminatory treatments.   Sincerely,   Nigeria Private Sector Alliance Nigeria Trade Experts Forum    

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