The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has recommended to the Federal Government that they first hold off on signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Treaty.
The pact was slated for signing by African Heads of States on March 21–22 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The AON issued its recommendation after the recent signing of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which African leaders sanctioned in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on the fringes of the African Union General Assembly.
AON Chairman, Capt. Nogie Meggison, stressed that Nigeria’s call to endorse the SAATM was rash going by “several unresolved concerns that have the potential of impacting the Nigerian economy negatively.”
He explained that similar to the SAATM, African Passport, Continental Financial Institutions (Currency & Taxes), the AfCFTA is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 which is geared at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with unhindered movement of business persons and investments.
He added that AfCFTA would provide unabated access to the Nigerian market, which might erode the efforts of the government to diversify the economy and emerge out of recession.
With these things in mind, Megisson asserted that the government should not be in such a hurry to sign the treaty.
He added Nigeria – which is the largest market in Africa – is the primary target of the free trade and open skies programs, while conveying the need for the government to proceed with utmost caution on such matters.
He also called for consultations with the Nigerian Community of Entrepreneurs and Experts on Trade Policies to examine the impact of the SAATM/AfCFTA on the Nigerian economy and also find a way that would consider the interests of local businesses for them to benefit in a substantial way.