Why Nigeria Refused To Sign Free Trade Agreement
There is nothing unusual about closing the borders on the African continent. Earlier this year, Sudan closed its border with Libya and the Central African Republic and Kenya suspended cross-border trade with Somalia for security reasons. In response to the Ebola outbreaks, Rwanda briefly closed the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the closure of Nigeria`s borders is different from those previous incidents, as it has been adopted to address trade concerns. At the 2019 World Economic Forum, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were presented as leaders in the new global context. On the AfCFTA, both scored points. First, with 1.2 billion people in 55 countries, the benefits of cooperation are far better than the ability to act as small fragmented markets in the new world order. Second, AfCFTA offers enormous opportunities for manufacturing and small, medium and large enterprises. This will boost intra-community trade, create jobs, improve skills development and ensure best practices through smart competition between countries. „It would have been great if the continent`s two largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, had signed up, but the most important thing is that the rest of the continent sends a real message to these two largest economies, which we are moving forward without you,” said Michael Kottoh, an analyst at Confidential Strategies in Ghana. The purest free trade agreement (FTA) removes all border taxes or trade barriers on goods.
In 2015, the African Union began talks on creating a 55-nation bloc that member states say would be the largest in the world to increase intra-regional trade, which accounts for 15% of Africa`s total trade. The government takes consultations seriously. This bodes well for the future implementation of the agreement. The status of AfCFTA ratification was discussed at the 32nd African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa from 10-11 February. Nigeria has not yet signed the agreement. The summit also agreed on continental leaders for the coming year, which will include Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as the current head of the AU in 2019, President Paul Kagame as outgoing AU leader in 2018 and President Cyril Ramaphosa as the future au chief in 2020. Move forward until today. The African Union had previously set 2063 as the deadline for the completion of the „United States of Africa.” The heads of state and government understood that there were no shortcuts to this ambitious vision.
When the AfCFTA was created, African leaders understood that continental challenges require continental responses. In fact, the agreement is confirmation that the responsibility for Africa`s future is in their hands – a collective action at a time when headwinds are multiplying globally. A mechanism for resolving international trade disputes and consumer rights in several jurisdictions, with different legal systems, needs to be addressed. Beyond the initial hype around the Kigali Summit in 2018, Africa was not immune to the debates on the free trade economy that governed the 2010s. In Abuja, Nigeria`s capital, politicians and lobbyists are concerned about the collapse of weak local industries and the loss of economic influence in the region. Nigeria is Africa`s largest economy, making it the most remarkable non-signatory to the AfCFTA. The president of Nigeria`s largest trade union – which has successfully fought Nigeria`s participation in the AfCFTA – has made AfCFTA an „extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal political initiative… who wants to open our seaports, airports and other enterprises to unbridled foreign interference that has never been experienced in the history of the country.”