Why Did Nigeria Not Sign The Free Trade Agreement

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Intra-African trade is currently only 16%, compared to 19% in Latin America, 51% in Asia, 54% in North America and 70% in Europe. The economic game with afCFTA INTRA-is simple: African countries look inward and facilitate trade between them by removing current trade barriers on the continent, such as current high tariffs. Access to a larger market, with about 1.2 billion people, will potentially trigger industrialization and production across the continent and in turn create huge employment opportunities on a continent where the world`s fastest growing workers live. If signatory countries adopt a policy that boosts local productivity, the free trade argument could boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). As the continent`s largest economy, Nigeria`s decision to sign the agreement was a boost to the pact. It was one of the last countries to commit to the agreement. Nigeria was one of the last nations to sign the agreement. With a population of 200 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has about 98 million inhabitants in the most populous countries, Ethiopia and Egypt. With a nominal GDP of $376 billion, or about 17% of Africa`s GDP, it is just ahead of South Africa, which accounts for 16% of the African economy. Given that Nigeria is such an important country in terms of population and economy, its absence at the first signing of the agreement was particularly striking. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted this in his comments of 12 July 2018, commenting: «The continent awaits Nigeria and South Africa. Through trade between us, we are able to maintain more resources on the continent. South Africa signed the agreement later.

[52] The strongest safeguards are «trade remedies,» including the fact that countries can apply anti-dumping duties on imports below their fair value to offset the impact of duties on imports subject to unjustified subsidies. Nigeria was not the only major economy to be cautious – South Africa did not sign at first, but it did a few months later. Buhari decided to wait until after the 2019 parliamentary elections, for which he had to consolidate his support on the ground. After winning, he turned to afCFTA and had to revive the economy and was the only one of the continent`s 54 countries not to be part of the agreement because of the conflict with Ethiopia. The government takes consultations seriously. This bodes well for the future implementation of the agreement.

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