BY DIKACHI ELEMBA
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general, World Trade Organisation (WTO), has urged members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to utilise the trade benefits which the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers to strengthen their businesses.
The WTO director-general also hammered on the need for the African countries to make use of the opportunities provided by the AfCFTA to build pharmaceutical firms and manufacture vaccines, and decried the level at which Covid-19 exposed the African continent’s continued dependence on other continents of the world.
Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke in Abuja as guest speaker on the theme, “The Trajectory on the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector: Resetting for Global Competitiveness”, said that Africans must strive to trade more with each other so as to create more wealth and jobs for the African continent.
Africa, with about 1.3 billion people and with a unified market, has a lot of opportunities for Nigerian businesses, she said, adding that Africa as a continent will be richer if its countries engage in trading activities among themselves than with other countries in other continents.
According to Okonjo-Iweala: “Despite efforts by Nigeria and other countries to move the African continent to the next phase of economic growth and development, via trade, the continent’s share of global trade remains abysmal, with intra-African trade as low as 15 percent, compared with 19 percent in Latin America, 51 percent in Asia, 54 percent in North America and 70 percent in Europe.”
She also noted that the AfCFTA would help to realise the potential to expand and also expedite the growing diversification of the intra-African trade, and the share of the intra-African trade to 22 percent this year. That also would bring the total intra-African trade to about $250 billion from about $160 billion currently.
Meanwhile, Mansur Ahmed, president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has asserted that the ways to the future are industrial development, as well as trade, at both the domestic and regional levels.