We ‘re negotiating AFCTA $3.4trn to boost economy -FG

…Receives $30bn investment commitment globally

The federal government is currently negotiating to be part of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Agreement to access a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion and access with a market of over 1.3billion across the world.

Also, it has received a commitment of $30 billion investments from various countries and organisations to boost the local economy.

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, announced this during a ministerial media parley organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation in Abuja on Friday.

Uzoka-Anite also said the N200 billion lifeline for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) approved by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was on, and “beneficiaries are undergoing screening. This will in turn enhance access to finance and also give the people a higher purchasing power.”

She said: “The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment under my stewardship has also Re-launched the Nigerian Trade Policy 2023-2027, which is geared at stimulating the domestic economy by connecting Nigerian SME’s to the global value chain thereby ensuring that Nigerian businesses have the capacity to be globally competitive.

“In furtherance of ensuring this global competitiveness, we are currently negotiating our accession into the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Agreement, which is posited to be the largest free trade area in the world, with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion and access to a market of over 1.3 billion people spread across 54 member states of the African Union.

“Recently, I was at the 13th AFCFTA Trade Minister’s meeting where we are actively negotiating Nigeria’s unique position on several crucial matters bordering on digital trade, safeguarding against illegal transshipment under the AFCFTA and tariff lines in specific sectors of the Nigerian economy.

“The successful implementation of the AFCFTA is expected to lead to diversification of exports, improved market access, enhanced trade opportunities and increased foreign direct investment.”

On Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into the country, the minister said the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration had got already got a “$30 billion investment commitment coming from various countries and some global organisations. These are either in form of equipment, direct funding or human capital development. It is instructive to know that Shell is already expanding its investment in Nigeria.

“On our bilateral engagements have been fruitful and have led to significant investment announcements and partnership opportunities for Nigerian trade. A notable example is the G20 summit in India, where a $14bn worth of FDI inflow to Nigeria was announced and being actualized. Since then, we have seen the Confederation of Indian Industries visiting Nigeria to further explore identified investment opportunities.

“These engagements with India, Germany, Netherlands, UAE, South Africa, and others have opened up avenues for investment and the establishment of joint regulatory protocols.

“Recently, we signed an MOU on Enhanced Trade in Partnership (ETIP) with the United Kingdom, where we have extensively discussed the issue of joint regulatory protocols.

“This has culminated in the signing of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement. This agreement facilitates smoother trade processes, allowing Nigerian businesses to export more goods to the UK.

“It also provides capacity building and sensitization for Nigerian exporters on how to benefit from the UK Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), which enables Nigerian exporters to export up to 3,000 different agricultural products to the UK with beneficial terms,” the minister said.

The partnership, Uzoka-Anite further said, “also encourages UK investors to explore Nigeria’s most promising sectors, working towards increasing reciprocal Foreign Direct Investment.

“This cooperation aims to spur economic growth through investments in infrastructure, technology, and manufacturing.

“Furthermore, the Regulatory Cooperation on Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) makes it easier for Nigeria to trade goods with the UK by preventing, identifying, and eliminating unnecessary technical barriers. “This cooperation promotes good regulatory practices and identifies trade facilitation initiatives leading to the convergence of technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures with relevant international standards.

“These engagements and agreements are a testament to our commitment to fostering international relations that benefit Nigerian trade and investment,” she further stated.

She attributed the increase in investments in the country to the removal of fuel subsidy, the unification of exchange rates and foreign trips by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as well as engagements with India, Germany, Netherlands, UAE, South Africa during those trips.

This, she said, had opened up avenues for investment and the establishment of joint regulatory protocols.

…Idris pleads for media support

Earlier in his remarks, minister of information and national orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, urged the media to always report gover with accuracy and objectivity.

“We are here to enlighten, inform and educate Nigerians and the world. If in doubt about anything, please seek to please seek to clarify,” he said.

He assured Nigerians that President Tinubu and the entire government fully understand the pains and challenges that Nigerians are going through.

He said the government is working very hard to alleviate these pains and bring lasting relief to individuals, households and businesses.

“Just yesterday, the President met with the 36 state governors, as part of efforts to scale-up the collaboration required to tackle the social and economic challenges confronting us. Indeed, the state governments are just as critical as the federal government in the work that needs to be done.

“We ask for your continued understanding, patience and belief in the Renewed Hope vision of Mr. President. We will keep you informed about everything we are doing to make the vision a reality,” he added.