In spite of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) starting in January, Nigeria has the right to restrict import of seven per cent of goods considered as sensitive for 10 years when the land borders reopen.
The free trade pact also permits Nigeria to permanently deny tariff liberalization of three per cent of other goods from being imported.
- N130bn goods trapped since border closure – Importers
- AfCFTA: Nigeria seeks ratification of protocol on free movement
Daily Trust learnt that the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) is still negotiating the products/goods to be designated as sensitive and the ones to be permanently excluded from liberalisation when the AfCFTA begins.
The Executive Director, Trade Law Centre and member of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), Trudi Hartzenberg, said the AfCFTA clearly made provisions for phased tariff concessions.
Hartzenberg said all member states have agreed that 90% of tariff lines are to be liberalised.
Under the free trade pact, a distinction is drawn between Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and non-LDCs for the tariff negotiations.
LDCs have 10 years to achieve 90% liberalisation, while non-LDCs, where Nigeria falls in, have five years.
The remaining 10% tariff line is split into 7% for sensitive products and 3% may not be liberalised entirely.
The Chief Trade Negotiator/ Acting Director General of NOTN, Victor Liman, recently said Nigeria is concerned about transhipment of goods saying Nigeria won’t accept goods imported from outside the African continent, but labelled as produced within Africa.
Reacting, Chief Ede Dafinone, the Chairman Export Group, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said the decision to consider the reopening of the border is long overdue.
“Most of us manufacturing for export did not see the benefit and reason for the closure.”
He said local production has ramped up in textile, rice, amongst others. “The government needs to devise a way of protecting these sectors. The CBN has set out 43 items which it prohibits from forex to some items that is a huge restriction already.”