AFCFTA: Action Committee Begins Sensitization Programme for MDAs, Industry Associations.

The National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) has embarked on sensitization programme of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including industry associations to explain the implications of the AFCFTA agreements and their roles in the implementation.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector who also doubles as the Executive Secretary of the National Action Committee on AFCFTA, Mr Francis Anatogu disclosed this in a zoom press conference.

Mr Anatogu noted that the sensitization programme which started in February 2020 was stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be restarted in August through virtual communication channels.

He said that the National Action Committee was charged to coordinate the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies and private sector stakeholders to undertake a wide range of actions at the domestic, regional and continental levels as well as prepare Nigerian businesses and the public to take advantage of the benefits of the AfCFTA while protecting them from the identified threats.

Asked on the scope of work involved by the National Action Committee, Mr Anatogu posited that it will involve the definition of Nigeria vision, mission and strategic objectives for the AfCFTA; development of a National Strategy for AfCFTA implementation; development and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation framework; apart from mobilization of public and private sector stakeholders to take advantage of AfCFTA.

He further explained that as part of efforts to manage its wide-ranging scope of work, the National Action Committee has setup a technical Secretariat and two subcommittees namely: Domestic Engagement and External Engagement Sub-Committees.

According to him, the Domestic Engagement Sub-Committee scope of work includes to conclude the update of trade policy and harmonize with the industrial policy, develop readiness road maps for sectors and thematic areas (including costs & funding options), develop blueprints for specific value chain segments of priority products and services; define market entry strategies for specific products/services and markets, define adjustment requirements and costs, support umbrella stakeholder groups to establish structures to cascade AfCFTA information to their members nationwide; and also to monitor and evaluate progress on the readiness projects implementation.

On the roles of the External Engagement subcommittee, he noted that their duty will involve assessing safeguard requirements and develop roadmap for ratification and domestication of the AfCFTA Agreement; develop an updated negotiation mandate for the AfCFTA; prepare road map to conclude the ongoing trade reforms at ECOWAS including ECOWAS common trade policy, setup of a trade policy committee; peer review and audit mechanism, resolution of issues with ETLS, and amendment of Article 9 of the Revised ECOWAS protocol on Decision Making,

Others are to assess ongoing AU initiatives on AfCFTA implementation and confirm specific actions and expectations from Nigeria; identify gaps in existing ECOWAS treaties and regulations and define requirements to close them; develop external engagement strategy for AfCFTA and facilitate the setup of trade monitoring mechanism and trade remedies framework.

He revealed that there are over 300 nominees of MDAs and private sector stakeholders working in 14 work streams within the above subcommittees.

Meanwhile, the National Action Committee on the AfCFTA is currently in stage two of its three stage implementation work plan.

The objective of the Stage II of the work programme, according to the national Action Committee boss is to deliver quick wins, develop work packages and establish processes for coordination, progress monitoring and reporting and channels for stakeholders’ sensitization, education and feedback.

He said progress on the work plan is summarized into assessing implementation requirements in the Agreement, review projects in the Impact & Readiness Report, define vision, mission and strategic objectives for AfCFTA, conduct assessment of selected African markets, and finally hold strategy workshops. Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated that bilateral trade deal between Kenya and the US will not undermine the AfCFTA, but instead will be a win for Africa. (Economic Confidential)