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Lawyers interrogate pros, cons of Africa continental free trade agreement

PHOTO: Africa Union Commission.

The Nigeria Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) has said it would examine the desirability or otherwise of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which Nigeria withdrew from signing, in its 12th annual conference in Abuja this June.

Addressing newsmen in Lagos last Thursday, the chairman of the Section, Mr. Olumide Akpata, flanked by the vice chairman, Mr. Seni Adio (SAN) and the chairman of the Conference Planning Committee (CPC), Mr. Okey Egbuchu, said the conference, which will hold between June 27 and 29 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja would be of international standard and will examine the issue critically.

According to him, Africa does more business with other continents than within, thereby limiting her potentials.

He said fears have been expressed by stakeholders not only in Nigeria but other countries in respect of the AfCFTA regarding issues of dumping, limitation of the ability to manage tariffs, loss of revenue, influx of persons and so on, culminating in Nigeria tactically withdrawing from signing the AfCFTA due to those concerns expressed by stakeholders such as organised labour and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

“The Federal Government is currently engaging stakeholders and we have provided platforms at our conference for the Federal Government, the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and other African countries to dialogue with stakeholders on the AfCFTA and more,” he explained.

Highlighting on the programme, themed “Bringing Down the Barriers – the Law as a Vehicle for Intra-Africa Trade”, the CPC chair, Egbuchu said speakers and panelists from all over the world sourced from the governments, corporates, regional bodies such as ECOWAS, the law firms and law societies and other professions will do justice to many topics spanning twelve sessions.

His words: “Some of these Speakers are: George Lipimile, the Czar of the COMESA Competition Commission, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator, Dr. Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Chief Chidi Ajaegbu, founder and Chairman, Chisco Transport Limited, Samallie Kiyingi, General Counsel, Africa Export-Import Bank, Haresh Aswani, Managing Director, Tolaram Group, Nigeria, Linus Gitali, Executive Chairman, Tropikal Brands (Africa) Limited from Kenya, Yemi Candide-Johnson, (SAN), president of the Lagos Court of Arbitra.

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