FG Tables Requests To Okonjo-Iweala, Seeks WTO’s Support On Energy, Business Climate, Others
The Federal Government has tables it’s request to the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala with the transition from fossil oil to gas dependent economy topping the list.
It also requested the WTO to assist the country in facilitating trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to enhance the ease of doing business among and boost agricultural output particularly in the area of value addition.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Ahmed tabled the Federal Government’s requests on Monday in Abuja to the Director – General of World Trade Organization Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is in the country on a four day official visit.
The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4trn.
In terms of numbers of participating countries, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa suggest that the AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.
It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general.
Speaking with the WTO DG, the Finance Minister said that there is need to strengthen manufacturing, and also get women involved and support Nigeria to enable the country take advantage of the AfCFTA.
She said, “We in Nigeria want to advocate for transition energy because it is true now that the issue of climate change is upon us.
“Our gas emissions in Nigeria is very minimal compared to global emissions. We have these assets and we have not tapped into it, to aid our development.
“We want you to support us and we have it in our agenda in COP 26 to campaign for gas to be classified as transition energy even if it’s for a limited period of 20 years.
” We also want the WTO to support us in looking at how Nigeria can leverage on bio-economic resources.
“It’s not new we have been too depended on fossils fuel and crude contributes significantly to the extent that whichever way the market swings to, that’s the situation we will find ourselves and it is unhealthy.
“Also help us facilitate trade under AfCFTA to enhance the ease of doing business.
“We need to strengthen manufacturing, and also get women involved and support Nigeria in driving economic inclusive growth by paying special attention to the contributions of women.”
Responding Okonjo-Iweala said her visit to Nigeria was not by accident, saying it was purposely planned to , “say thank you to Mr. President,to the Chief of Staff for the huge support. I have to start from home, to see how WTO can support Nigeria and improve her ability to trade”.
She expressed regret that Nigeria’s share of world trade is 0.33 per cent , a figure she said is very low.
She added that even at the continental level, the share of Nigeria’s trade which is currently 19 per cent is too small compared to what the country can achieve.
She explained that the Federal Government must step up action on its economy, stating that trade can be instrumental if Nigeria can add more value to its products and improve its infrastructure to deliver trade.
She said, “Nigeria is very active in agriculture bearing in mind that we have a diversified economy in Nigeria, where agriculture is extremely important even though we don’t have a diversified source of revenue but we have a diversified economy.
“Trade negotiations on agricultural issues are very important for us and we are very active there.We are also active in the joint statement initiatives, Nigeria is a leader on issues of e commerce, services domestic regulations, investment facilitation, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and women in trade.
“Nigeria is active on all these issues because they are very important for our economy and that is the main thing I want to say today and the reason why we are here.
“Nigeria’s share in world trade is 0.33 per cent, this is a small fraction of what we could do. Our share in Africa trade is 19 per cent which is below our share of the Africa’s Gross Domestic Product.
“This means we must step up our action on the economy we must do better and harder in several ways, the reason we are concerned about that is because of our youth, the majority of our population are young people who are waiting for jobs and we are here for them.
“Trade can be instrumental if we can add more value to our products, trade can be instrumental if we try to improve on our infrastructure to deliver trade.
“Nigeria needs to focus on adding value on transitioning, we are an oil and gas based economy and that has sustained us and still will. But the world is moving away from fossil fuel.”
The WTO DG said the country can do well in the area of agriculture as it has a lot of potentials in various segments of the agricultural sector.