The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association said on Wednesday that Nigeria took great risks by signing the controversial African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
Timothy Olawale, the director-general, NECA, said this on Wednesday while fielding questions from the State House correspondents after the leadership of the association had met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
This came on the heels of the association’s 62nd Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Tuesday, where it lamented that some government agencies were frustrating the ease of doing business in Nigeria through what it termed their contradictory regulations.
President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the AfCFTA agreement in Niamey, Niger Republic, on July 7, 2019, making Nigeria the 53rd country to do so.
Incidentally, NECA was one of the associations the Federal Government consulted before it arrived at the decision that Nigeria should join AfCFTA.
But, the group warned that one major negative implication was that AfCFTA would turn Nigeria into a dumping ground for all manner of goods.
It also observed that the Nigerian economy, lacking in key infrastructure, was too fragile to withstand competition from other countries, while it also kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to raise Value Added Tax.
Olawale noted that the economy was already weighed down by multiple taxation and could not absorb more taxes.
Speaking specifically on the implications of joining the AfCFTA, he said, “The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement is laudable. There are lots of benefits inherent in it. We also know that it is capable of engendering capital in flow into the country.
“However, before we start talking about benefits derivable from it, we must also talk of the likely damage it can do to an economy that is fragile like ours, which behoves on us as stakeholders and government to put all hands on deck to address those issues.