By Samson Echenim
…begin online registration for AfCFTA
With the country’s land borders still closed with no sign of opening soon, Nigerian manufacturers, under the aegis of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have begun online registration for African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The group has also requested information from members on the effect of border closure on individual members operations.
In separate letters to members of the association, manufacturers were urged to register to be able to use the Non Trade Barrier (NTB) tools, required for the smooth implementation of AfCFTA and asked to provide information on how the border closure has affected their businesses.
A letter from MAN headquarters stated, «Recall that at the recently concluded 12th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of African Heads of State and Government in Niamey – Niger on 07 July 2019, the African Union Summit launched the operational phase of the AfCFTA Agreement supported by a number of instruments, including a Continental online mechanism for reporting, monitoring and elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB).
«As you may be aware, one of the key objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is to progressively eliminate existing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and refrain from introducing new ones in order to enhance and facilitate intra Africa trade. Annex 5 to the Protocol on Trade in Goods of the AfCFTA Agreement provides a continental policy framework for addressing NTBs.
«The key attributes of the proposed mechanism include integrated online and SMS reporting; time bound monitoring tools supported by a customized NTBs resolution mechanism. NTBs have become an increasingly important form of protectionism-inhabiting intra and inter Regional Economic Communities (RECs) trade and place costly and often unnecessary burden on cross-border traders and constrain the supply capacity and competitiveness of traders.
«The elimination of NTBs is identified as one of the main objective of the Africa continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS). The AfCFTA NTB Online Tool would therefore serve as a platform in addressing intra and inter REC Non-Tariff Barriers challenging full and effective implementation of the ECOWAS Trade liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the AfCFTA market access. The AfCFTA NTB Mechanism requires organized private sectors to register and be able to utilize the AfCFTA NTB Tools.»
The letter continued,» In order to enable private sector report NTBs, you are advised to register on www.tradebarriers.africa. Kindly register as the NTB tool is now open (13/1/2020) to receive and address NTBs. You can click on the language column of the portal and select the language of your choice.»
In the letter requesting information on border closure, MAN wrote, «You may recall that the Federal Government took a decision towards the end of last year to close the land borders of neighbouring countries within the West Africa region. This was based on the premise of combating Trade malpractices and national insecurity.
«Going forward, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) will be discussing with Federal Government on this matter, and it’s necessary that our discussion is guided with stakeholders’ views. In view of this, we hereby solicit for your assistance in giving us necessary information which will be analysed and articulated as your Association’s position in guiding further pronouncement on the matter by government. We would appeal that this request be given utmost priority as we await your response before the close of work on Monday, 27th 2020.»