Nigeria to enter African Free Trade Agreement?

Legislation | 12 June 2019

It has been claimed that Nigeria will enter the African Continental Free Trade Area this summer.


There has been speculation that Nigeria could be set to enter the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into effect on May 30th 2019.

Although it is Africa's largest economy, Nigeria - together with Eritrea and Benin - has not yet ratified the deal and entered into the new continental bloc.

However, speaking at the Annual Debate Africa Investment conference in London, president of Africa Export Import Bank Benedict Okey Oramah said he thinks it will.

In fact, he suggested Nigeria could enter the FTA as early as July, with the Africa Report quoting him as saying: "I think Nigeria will be a member. I don't see why they would stay out."

Experts have suggested the comments may have been no more than wishful thinking, but it has also been pointed out that an exit clause could make the AfCFTA tempting to Nigeria as a low-risk commitment.

The AfCFTA is expected to be formally launched at the summit of the African Union (AU) in Niger next month after finally gaining the agreement of the 22 nations necessary for its efficacy.

Signatories have agreed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, address non-tariff obstacles to intracontinental trade and create a single market with free movement of labour and capital.

This has resulted in the biggest agreement of its kind since the advent of the World Trade Organization and it is hoped it will increase inter-African trade by 60 per cent within three years.

The International Monetary Fund has called it "an economic game-changer for the continent", but Nigeria has so far remained on the sidelines.

According to the government, it is currently reviewing an impact assessment report before commenting further on whether or not it will join.

Previously, Nigeria has suggested the free flow of goods in may harm the operations of domestic businesses.