By Francis Akinnodi
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African countries to expand and diversify their participation in international trade to explore the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Buhari made the call at the ninth African Shippers’ Day with the theme: “African Continental Free Trade Agreement: A Veritable Platform for African Shippers’ to Mainstream into Global Trade,” on Monday in Lagos.
Buhari said that the participation of African countries in international trade would create wealth, generate employment and reduce poverty.
He noted that the volume of African export in the global trade was still very low at three per cent in spite of the growth in the continent.
Buhari was represented at the event by the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye.
He noted that deepening regional integration to scale up supply capacity and build regional value chain was essential to the continent’s economic transformation.
Buhari, however, said in Nigeria, AfCFTA would be a game-changer when it comes to stimulating intra-African trade because the more ambitious the trade liberalisation, the greater the expansion of Nigerian exports to its African partners.
He said making AfCFTA a reality would require creating national institutions for implementation of the agreement.
The president also stressed that the need for collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as donor agencies.
He noted that for AfCFTA to be the platform that would propel African importers and exporters onto the global trading platform, participating member countries must undertake bold domestic structural reforms to scale up the supply capacity of the region.