African Continental Free Trade Agreement beneficial to Nigeria – NLC

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Abuja –  The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), says the signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) will be beneficial to Nigeria and Africa’s economies.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President said this while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in 2012, African heads of state resolved to establish CFTA treaty to create a single continental market for goods and services in member states.

The year 2017 was adopted as the deadline the treaty will become operational, however, consensus was not reached among member nations who requested for more time to continued consultations on the impacts on their economies.

It will be recalled that stakeholders including the NLC and the organised private sector have raised also concerns over the implications of the agreement for the country’s economy.

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The NLC had said the agreement would lead to collapse of the country’s manufacturing sector and loss of jobs.

Wabba said that NLC was well guided when it raised alarm over Nigeria signing the agreement.

According to him, the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari is commendable as this will give room to ensure that Nigeria being Africa’s largest economy is not short changed in the deal.

“The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement actually meant to open up our borders for free trade between Africa countries with ease.

“We have looked at it and it is also for us to be competitive as it has to be situated within products that are actually produced in Africa.

“Not products that will be produced elsewhere and then African continent will become conduit pipe to actually dump those products. That has been our concerns.

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“Secondly, we must protect our national interest, especially in the areas we have comparative advantage, agric products, issues of oil and gas; we must be able to protect our local market.

“There should be reciprocity in these trades. Not that we open our borders and at the end of the day, we don’t get the same reciprocity from other countries, ‘’he said.

He said that Nigeria’s president had directed that NLC, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and other key stakeholders, should be consulted to air their views on the agreement.

Wabba however, said that in the consultation that took place a week ago, all stakeholders aired their views and had also submitted memorandum with some recommendations given.

He expressed optimism that the ongoing consultation on the agreement would be beneficial and safeguard Nigeria and Africa’s economies.

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“So, let me clearly say that NLC was consulted because what I am sharing with you is not only NLC’s views, it’s the views of all the Trade Unions in Africa.

“We met in Lome under the auspices of International Trade Union Confederation and we came up with a position after studying the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“So, clearly speaking, we said let us also make sure that we are able to protect our markets because there’s a push somewhere and we thought we should be able to expose that push.

“But importantly, putting safeguards to make sure that Africa does not become a dumping ground for other countries.

“Because we have the population, we have what it takes and therefore we must work toward industrialisation of Africa,’’ he added.(NAN)

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