By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja today (Saturday) for Niamey, Niger Republic to attend the African Union (AU) Summit, scheduled to hold on July 7.Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari salutes during an inspection of guards on parade to mark Democracy Day in Abuja, on June 12, 2019. – Nigeria celebrates the Day of Democracy on June 12, commemorating the country’s first free elections, on June 12, 1993, after a decade of military rule. (Photo AFP)
President Buhari will participate in the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the First Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Niamey.
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A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina explained that the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union was expected to launch the operational instruments of the Agreement establishing AfCFTA.
The instruments include: AfCFTA Rules of Origin, Tariff Concession Portals, Portal on Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, Digital Payments and Clearing Systems and African Trade and Observatory Dashboard.
Prior to the Summit, the Buhari Administration had embarked on extensive consultations with stakeholders, culminating in the submission of the report by the Presidential Committee to Assess Impact and Readiness of Nigeria to join the AfCFTA.
The committee had recommended that Nigeria should sign the Agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade.
President Buhari will sign the AfCFTA Agreement on the margins of the AU meeting in Niamey.
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While formally accepting the report on June 27, President Buhari said:
”For AfCFTA to succeed, we must develop policies that promote African production, among other benefits.
”Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods.’ That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.”
President Buhari will be accompanied to Niamey by the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, Governors Babagana Zulum, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and Aminu Bello Masari of Borno, Kebbi and Katsina States, respectively.
Other top government officials include: Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Mustapha Suleiman; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Sunday Akpan; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Nuratu Batagarawa; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse; Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; and Director-General, National Office for Trade Negotiations, Amb. Chinedu Osakwe.
The President will return to Abuja at the conclusion of the Summit.Related