Nigeria to sign Africa free trade pact

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will sign the landmark African free trade (AfCFTA) agreement during the upcoming African Union meeting in Niger, his office said.

In a tweet shared late Tuesday, the Presidency confirmed that ‘Nigeria will sign the #AfCFTA Agreement at the upcoming Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger.”

In a series of tweets, Nigeria said it agreed to the deal after “extensive domestic consultations, and is focused on taking advantage of ongoing negotiations to secure the necessary safeguards against smuggling, dumping and other risks/threats.”

AfCFTA formally came into force at the end of May, after the required minimum of 22 countries ratified the ambitious plan to boost intra-African trade, which has long suffered by high tariffs.

“Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations. Economic progress is what makes the world go around. Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis,” President Muhammadu said.

According to AFP, the progressive elimination of tariffs will help boost regional trade by 60% within three years.

The leaders of 44 African countries signed up for the deal in March last year, during a summit held in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Nigeria is one of only three of the AU’s 55 member states to not have signed up to AfCFTA.