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AfCFTA To Give Nigerian Firms Access To $666.17bn Market — Emefiele

Godwin Emefiele, governor, Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said on Tuesday that full implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is expected to give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods and $162 bil­lion in services.

He said AfCFTA has the potential of offering significant opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to ex­pand into new markets and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of manufacturing, ICT, ag­riculture and financial services, giv­en Nigeria’s growing advantage in these areas relative to counterparts in other parts of Africa.

Emefiele disclosed this at Zenith Bank’s 2021 Export Seminar which was held vir­tually on Tuesday.

“I believe that we should seize this opportunity to en­sure that Nigeria serves as a significant hub for interna­tional and domestic manu­facturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African markets”, the apex bank governor said.

Emefiele, who commend­ed Zenith Bank for its focus on growing non-oil exports by organising the seminar, said AfCFTA, if well har­nessed, can enable greater growth and improved foreign inflows for the Nigerian econ­omy.

He said, “Supporting great­er trade within Africa as well as with the global communi­ty is indeed vital to the CBN’s objectives of enabling greater economic growth and creat­ing employment opportuni­ties for our growing popula­tion in Nigeria. Trade enables specialisation, economies of scale and it also provides sig­nificant rewards to those who are innovative, as they can sell their goods and services to an expanded market.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting implications on crude oil prices in 2020, which led to a significant decline in government reve­nues, as well as in our foreign exchange earnings, served to strengthen the case that we must diversify our economy and create new trade opportu­nities for Nigerians, as part of our recovery efforts.

“Fortunately, the Nigerian economy was able to emerge out of the recession in the 4th quarter of 2020, following two quarters of negative growth. This was due to significant interventions by the mone­tary and fiscal authorities in Nigeria, aimed at stimulating consumption expenditure.

“However, a strong and well-balanced recovery will require additional contribu­tions from the private sector in supporting greater growth of our non-oil exports. The volatility in the oil markets which has exposed the Nige­rian economy to significant exogenous shocks, along with the growing trajectory towards lesser use of fossil fuels in the near future, by some advanced and emerg­ing market countries, makes it imperative that we work to significantly improve our non-oil exports earnings.

“We have a very young energetic, technological sav­vy population that has been leveraging technological applications to improve ser­vice delivery in the areas of finance, logistics and agricul­ture to consumers in Nigeria. I believe the AfCFTA will pro­vide an opportunity for these young talented Nigerians to expand their services across the African region.

“Developing trade portals that could support instant sales of goods manufactured in Nigeria to consumers in other parts of Africa is one aspect that can help to sup­port the creation of jobs in Nigeria and improve foreign exchange inflows for the country.

“Our banks are already playing a significant role in expanding across the African continent. I would like to en­courage them to also leverage their presence in other parts of Africa, to support Nige­rian businesses seeking to expand into new markets in Africa, by providing trade fa­cilities to those with strong potential for growth.

“At the CBN, we have tak­en considerable steps to im­prove the productive capacity of businesses, which would enable them take advantage of export opportunities in Africa. Our intervention programmes in the agri­culture and manufacturing sectors are helping to enable businesses to expand their scale of production, which is meeting growing domes­tic demand for goods, but also providing goods for the export market. In addition, we have set up a N500 billion non-oil export stimulation fa­cility with the Nigerian Ex­port Import Bank (NEXIM). This initiative will also help to enable greater exports of processed agriculture com­modities into other markets in Africa and in the global market”, Emefiele said.

Source: Independent Ng

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