AfCFTA Agreement: NANTS Urges FG To Boost MSMEs Funds

Controller, Apapa Area Command, Nigeria Customs Service, Muhammed Abba-Kura (L) and other officers of the service display to journalists some seized bags of rice imported from Thailand and falsely declared as wood processing equipment, in Lagos last Tuesday.

The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has called for increased funds and productivity for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to benefit from African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
NANTS President, Mr Ken Ukaoha, made the call yesterday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen on the signing of the AfCFTA agreement by Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 7, at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger Republic, signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.
Ukaoha said that for Nigeria to benefit from the largesse and potential of the AfCFTA agreement, the Federal Government should ensure a diversified economy by directing incentives to reactivate the MSMEs for increased productivity.
“ The financial sector needs to buckle up; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other commercial banks need to wake up to the reality facing Nigeria in the agreement and channel more funds to MSMEs for credit availability,” he said.
He explained that President Buhari hesitated in signing the AfCFTA agreement because he wanted to carry everybody along, hence he ordered for consultation of all the stakeholders.
According to him, the president set up a steering committee that looked at the potential impacts and readiness of Nigeria to sign and participate in the agreement.
“After everything, the committee, which comprised all stakeholders including labour sector, manufacturers and chamber of commerce, MSMEs and different government agencies concluded that Nigeria had to sign the agreement.
“ This is to enable Nigeria to join in the enlarged market which has over N1.2 billion market share.
“ We need to understand that there is no trade agreement that comes on a platter of gold, for every country represented therein, the agreement must come with shocks, cost, and benefits as well,’ ’he added.
He said that it could cost the country some part of the economy, investment in road, rail and other trade infrastructure including communications.
Ukaoha said that it would also come with the benefit of a large market and eye opener because producers and marketers would be challenged due to new market entries.