President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday called for the speedy establishment of a single, unified market in Africa.
This, he said, would increase trade, create more jobs and reduce poverty.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President made the call while presenting Nigeria’s position in favour of the report on the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area and related issues presented by President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic during the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“It is Nigeria’s position that as African leaders and principal architects of our union, we must now speed up action to conclude the negotiations and establish the CFTA,” Buhari stated.
Noting that the continent had missed the timeline set by the African Union in January 2012 to establish the CFTA in 2017, Buhari said African leaders still had the opportunity to set it up by March this year.
Justifying Nigeria’s vote for the CFTA, the President said, “In a rapidly changing global economy, with much uncertainty, we believe that the establishment of a CFTA would provide Africa with tremendous opportunity to achieve significant growth driven by intra-African trade.”
According to him, while the stakes in setting up the CFTA are no doubt very high, the benefits are wide-ranging and significant.
“The primary objective is economic, namely, trade in goods and services on the continent. A single, unified market will lead to a comprehensive and mutually-beneficial trade agreement amongst African Union member states.
“If we integrate Africa’s market for trade in goods and services, we will not only double intra-African trade, but also negotiate with other regions or continents on trade matters.”
Buhari argued further, “If we increase our trade, we grow faster, create more jobs and reduce poverty. Thus, with the CFTA, our continent will be more integrated, united and prosperous.”