The two economic giant in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa said they are consulting stakeholders before signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The agreement to create the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was signed at an extraordinary summit in Kigali, Rwanda by representatives of 44 of the 55 African Union (AU) member states and expected to come into force within six months.
The countries that signed the AfCFTA Consolidated Text are Niger, Rwanda, Angola, C.A.R., Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, The Gambia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Cote'd'Ivoire, Seychelles, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea.
Others are Morocco, Swaziland, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, D.R.C, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, South Sudan, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sao Tome and Principle, Togo and Tunisia.
The deal is expected to improve the economic prosperity of the African nations removing barriers to trade, like tariffs and import quotas, allowing the free flow of goods and services between its members.
Nigeria, South Africa and nine other countries failed to sign the deal, which will need to be ratified by all the signatories' lawmaking authorities before the bloc becomes a reality.
Nigerian government excuse
Though, the Federal Executive Council had approved for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, a late hour decision from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that certain key stakeholders in Nigeria indicated that they had not been consulted, and therefore had some concerns about the provisions of the treaty.
Consequently, the Nigerian government backed out to allow more time for broader consultations and input from the stakeholders.
The Nigerian stakeholders
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria - The Manufacturers Association frowned at the contents of the agreement, noting that it will lead to gross unemployment in the country as most manufacturing companies in the country will be made to die a quicker death.
Dr Frank Jacobs, the president of the association, said issues of market access and enforcement of rules of origin should be properly addressed before the government adopt and ratify the deal.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had also warned President Muhammadu Buhari against signing the agreement, calling it a "renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neo-liberal policy initiative".
South African government excuse
President Cyril Ramaphosa who attended the meeting said that his government welcomed the "historic moment" and dream of the AU but needs to consult widely before joining other African nations.
He said the country needs to consult people at home, his Cabinet, partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, and finally to consult Parliamentarians and only signed the declaration on the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCTA is a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion. The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods and to liberalize services.
The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, with 10 percent of "sensitive items" to be phased in later. It will also liberalise trade in services and might in the future include free movement of people and a single currency.