The creation of African Continental Free Trade Area, AFCFTA will turn around the economic fortunes of Nigeria and member African countries.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State made this known during a South East Sensitization and Consultative forum organized for Stakeholders in Owerri.
Governor Okorocha who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in the state Professor Nnamdi Obiareri noted that the endorsement of the trade agreement by Nigeria would facilitate trade which was in tandem with the nation’s economic policy.
According to the Governor, the trade integration is critical for economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction both in the South east geo-political zone and the nation at large.
Governor Okorocha stated that trade and industry were the major economic activities of the people of the south east which have contributed in fostering the unity of the nation.
He commended the Federal Government for keying in to the free trade initiative which he said would remove bottlenecks in doing business as the measure would facilitate trade among member countries.
The Chief Trade Negotiator, Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe said the meeting followed a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to sensitize businessmen from the zone to the initiative and solicit their input on how to effectively utilize benefit accruable from the free trade agreement.
He expressed regret that most of the trade agreements existing among African nations were put in place and imposed on them by colonial masters which had impacted negatively on the continent.
Ambassador Osakwe expressed the optimism that the agreement would be beneficial to Nigeria considering the seeming booming commercial activities in the africa’s most populous nation.
Representatives of Chambers of Commerce in Imo and Anambra States appealed to the Federal Government to address issues of multiple taxation extortion by law enforcement agents and undue influence of market unions in the south east.
The Stakeholders recommended the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area by Nigeria to enable the country to consolidate and sustain her leadership position in the African union by improving competitiveness in trade in goods and services.
The Event was attended by stakeholders in the five states of the south east geo-political zone of the country and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public sector matters, Mr. Francis Anatodo, among other dignitaries.