President Muhammadu Buhari said the need to carefully study every document before appending his signature is responsible for the delays in the signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement ( AFCFTA).
President Buhari had while responding to questions from Journalists on why he was yet to sign the AFCFTA that was signed by other African leaders in February, this year, said “ I am very careful about what l sign. I am a slow reader, probably because of my Military background”.
The President however assured that he will sign the document “ very soon”without saying how soon.
The President had earlier met with the visiting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa behind closed doors where both leaders discussed bilateral issues.
The non- signing of the continental trade agreements has raised several concerns in the continent as Nigeria is regarded as the region’s largest economy with strong potentials to benefit from the continental economic plans.
Report on a recent study initiated by the Federal government on the benefits or otherwise of Nigeria signing the AFCFTA, had indicated that 78% of the businesses polled from a total of 512 companies across the six geopolitical zones, believe that AfCFTA will make a positive impact on local businesses.
Of the total number, “10% believe that the impact will be negative while the remaining 12% believe it will have no impact”.
The researchers polled 512 companies of different sizes, sectors, outputs, export destinations and profitability drivers. One of their findings showed 69% of business believing that the AfCFTA would be advantageous to Nigeria, while 22% believe the opposite while 11% are unsure”.
Recall that the study had followed the decline by President Muhammadu Buhari to travel to Kigali, the Rwandan capital to join other African leaders at an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in March to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The President had advanced the need not to be in a hurry to enter into any agreement “ to prevent the country from becoming a dumping ground and jeopardise the security of the nation”
Buhari thereafter inaugurated the committee to move round the country to review the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) framework agreement, sampling opinion of all the stakeholders
Forty four African countries had gone ahead to agree to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, even as the continent’s biggest economies, Nigeria withheld its signature.