Nigeria absent as 44 African countries sign continental free trade agreement

The signing took place during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) on the AfCFTA.

Chairperson of AU Commission Moussa Mahamat was handed over the legal instruments signed by 44 African countries at the signing ceremony.

After the signing, the agreement will be submitted for ratification by state parties of the agreement in accordance with their domestic laws.

Experts said African regional integration will help enhance economic development.

This will be achieved through the lowest transaction costs for business, lower risks associated with

investments, expansion of markets, better utilisation of economies of scale in production and more efficient

allocation of resources, said Ismael Buchanan, Dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the University of Rwanda.

The AfCFTA is an example toward the integration and will mark a key milestone in the integration, Buchanan told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

Some 40 countries signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA, Chairperson of AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat said during the ongoing signing ceremony.

The integration will raise Africa’s potential through increasing intra-African trade, said Teddy Kaberuka, an economic analyst.

This will lead to promotion of production capacity, thus, some important goods could be substituted to local

production, Kaberuka said, adding that increased production capacity will also help create jobs.

FG looking into agreement

Meanwhile,President Buhari has set up a Presidential Committee to widen consultations on the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement and report back to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) within 2 weeks.

The Presidency in a Tweet said that "The President believes that the Economic and security implications of Nigeria signing the Agreement need to be FURTHER discussed.

"This is a far-reaching decision that requires the widest possible consultations amongst all stakeholders."

The presidency also said that the government will not agree to anything that will undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or that may lead to Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for finished goods.

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