By Ajayi Celestine
As the Africa continent gears up for the commencement of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), President Muhammadu Buhari has charged African nations on the need to defend and preserve rules guiding the AfCFTA agreement.
The President explained that adhering to agreed rules will ensure that there are no breakdown or abuse of the continental free trade framework.
Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the 13th Extraordinary Sessions of the Assembly of the African Union said “Nigeria is keenly aware of her role in deepening intra-Africa trade and making it a success. We remain open to transparently work with our Brothers and Sisters across Africa, in the spirit of cooperation, to deepen Continental integration through the free movement of goods, natural and legal persons across the continent.
“We must remain strident and committed in our support for the instrument, while timeously addressing actions that could lead to breakdown of the rules-based African Continental Free Trade Area.
“The successful commencement of Trade in January 2021 is indeed the fulfilment of the collective dreams of our founding fathers for a better, United, peaceful and prosperous Africa.”
He further added that any form of abuse of the rules that undermine Africa borders and affect its markets could be a recipe for strained trade, relations disorders, regional and geopolitical tensions and reduced economic growth.
On the challenges Covid-19 pandemic has brought upon the countries, Buhari urged that there is need to work to address and close noticeable gaps as the rules-based system will provide the essential balance previously lacking in the trade relations.
Emphasising on the importance of the Agreement, he said “this Agreement is strategic and relevant to the establishment of an economic and legal framework for intra-Africa trade relations and further serve as a platform for deepening Africa’s Integration into the global economy.
“We are optimistic that opportunities abound within the AfCFTA framework for the engagement of business that would Foster and facilitate trade, as well as investment flows and the growth of regional and global value chains.
“It is important that the launch of trade in 2021 produces a win-win situation and shared prosperity for all Member States,” he said.
The President gave the assurance that the country is taking all the necessary steps to be fully prepared for the effective start of trading on 1st January, 2021.
Nigeria has since last Friday submitted its ratified instrument for AfCFTA at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.