Nigeria puts off signing of Africa free trade deal
Lagos : Nigeria has officially put off signing the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) following protests by major labor unions which warned that the deal would harm the local economy, Anadolu Agency reported.
Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tope Elias-Fatile said in a statement on Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari canceled his trip to the Rwandan capital Kigali where African heads of state were scheduled to ink the agreement this week.
“President Buhari has canceled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda to attend an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Tuesday March 21, to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area,” the statement said, adding: “This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders.”
The Nigerian federal cabinet last week approved the signing of the deal which it said would boost the country’s export, “spur growth and boost job creation as well as eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products and provide a Dispute Settlement Mechanism for stopping the hostile and discriminatory treatment directed against Nigerian natural and corporate business persons in other African countries.”
ACFTA, a brainchild of the African Union to deepen regional integration, had been in the works since January 2012, with Nigeria as one of its major promoters. However, local labor unions and big corporations have always been against it.
Last week, Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah acknowledged the continuous opposition to the deal but he added that efforts were afoot to get the buy-in of all the stakeholders ahead of the signing.