By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said that expansion and diversification of involvement in international trade and global value chain by African countries is pivotal for wealth creation, generation of employment, poverty reduction as well as the growth of African economies.
Buhari, who stated this in a keynote address at the opening of the 9th African Shippers’ Day held in Lagos, said the global economy is a source of growth that African economies cannot afford to ignore.
He noted that while African exports of goods and services have seen their growth in the past decade, the volumes have remained low at just three per cent of global trade.
Represented at the occasion by the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, the President said African countries must expand and diversify their participation in international trade and global value chains in order to create wealth and promote their socio-economic development.
Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, President Buhari said the experience during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant global lockdown brought to the fore the need for a vibrant and successful AfCFTA.
He expressed optimism that the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will boost intra-African trade, strengthen the production and export of goods and services, create employment and limit the impact of commodity price volatility on the economies of African countries.
The President said the AfCPTA would bring about a number of benefits to producers and consumers as African producers would benefit from access to cheaper inputs, intermediate goods as well as larger markets for their products, while consumers will have access to cheaper goods and a broader variety of products.
He, however, noted that for the AfCFTA to have a positive influence on long-term investment in productive capacities, African Governments must develop appropriate supporting policies, build the requisite infrastructure and ensure an educated workforce.
“We will need to actively promote productive employment and decent work, women empowerment and food security and reduction in inequalities”, he added.
The President acknowledged that due to the AfCFTA reform, Nigeria’s exports will increase significantly to other African sub-region, outside West Africa.
He said the Nigerian government has intensified efforts aimed at identifying new opportunities for diversification and value chain development under the AfCFTA and complementary actions considered necessary to overcome the existing constraints to intra-African trade.
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