As pressure mounts on Nigeria to key into African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), the President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Adetokunbo Kayode says the country’s interest is duly protected.
Kayode said in Moscow that Nigeria should not delay further in signing the agreement as it had little or nothing to worry about.
He spoke on the sideline of 2019 Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Annual meeting in Moscow, Russia.
“First of all, Nigeria was in the forefront of designing this agreement, Nigeria’s interest is duly protected and Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa.
“Nigeria can never be oppressed economically in Africa. In fact, Nigeria may be taken as an oppressor and we have no reason playing last in this game, many of us feel worried and concerned.
“And nobody should give the impression that Nigeria cannot compete when the AfCFTA agreement is signed, we can compete favourably.
“The reason for the delay in signing was because there was some laxity about consultations, especially with the private sector.
“I agree there was no consultation by government initially with the private sector but that issue has been resolved.
“The government set up a very comprehensive technical committee which includes every sector of our economy both public and private to look at the entire matrix of the agreement.
“They have looked at it and they have recommended to government that Nigeria should sign.
“But as at today, decision has not been finally taken whether we should sign or not, there is an extant federal executive council resolution that Nigeria should sign,’’ Kayode said.
According to him, Nigeria’s inability to compete is due to archaic and anti-trade government regulations of the country.
He urged that these obsolete regulations be removed as it was affecting Nigerian businesses and the economy.
Kayode also urged that basic infrastructure such as power be stabilised to reduce the burden on businesses and engender growth.
He said the country had sufficient power to drive the economy but was still a long way behind ensuring its success.
According to him, Nigeria is also facing the challenge of porous borders which allows people to smuggle all sorts of things into the country without paying due tax to the government.
Kayode urged that the government should work at creating the necessary platform needed for businesses to thrive in the country.