North East stakeholders forum seeks free trade zone for economic growth
A Northeast Stakeholders’ Forum has urged the Federal Government to adopt African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in the area.According to the forum, it was necessary for the effective monitoring of economic growth and development.
The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment organised the meeting, in collaboration with the Borno State government in Maiduguri.It stressed that the AfCFTA in the northeast had already adopted the three objectives in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).
According to its communiqué, the Federal Government must establish an effective coordination and monitoring mechanism to ensure the maximisation of opportunities in the AfCFTA.The forum also agreed that the free trade agreement was necessary for a dynamic transformation in the 21st century’s global economy.
The stakeholders agreed that trade policy on expanded market for regional integration was consistent with ERGP to boost cross-border trade.The communiqué reads: “This forum underlined the urgent necessity for an accelerated implementation action on countervailing measures against transshipment and dumping.
“Also included are predictable, cost effective power supply, reducing costs of funds and improving access to credit.”The stakeholders urged government to provide micro-credit and trade finance on the platform of the GEEP-BOI to the northeast.
It further sought the restoration of historical intra-African trade corridors with Central African for the zone.While cautioning against subsequent border closure, it said the 25 market associations had appealed for government support in funding and completing the mapping of Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises
The Chief Trade Negotiator and Director-General of Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe lauded the initiative.He said: “Their visit to the Maiduguri Dikwa, Gamboru-Ngala border was to observe the endless line of trade convoys transporting Nigerian products into Central Africa.He extoled the unanimous endorsement of the AfCFTA at the geopolitical forum, which he said, marked a turning point in the sensitisation and consultation exercise.
“The height of the North-East geopolitical zone sensitization, and consultation on AfCFTA, was the positive relationship established by stakeholders between trade, cross-border cooperation, security and stability,” he said.
Governor Kashim Shettima stressed the historical importance of the cross border and intra-African trade, for economic growth, job creation and prosperity in the northeast.The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Usman Durkwa, said cross-border trade has sustained economic growth in the area with its job creation in the Lake Chad Basin.
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