Statement by President Buhari on the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), delivered at the 30th AU Summit

Delivered at the 30th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Monday January 29, 2018

In a rapidly changing global economy, with much uncertainty we believe that the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area would provide Africa with tremendous opportunity to achieve significant growth driven by intra-Africa trade.

In accordance with African Union Assembly Decision of January, 2012, the Union decided to establish the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017. Although we missed this timeline last year, we still have the opportunity to establish the Continental Free Trade Area by March, 2018.

It is Nigeria’s position that, as African leaders and principal architects of our Union, we must now speed up action to conclude the negotiations and establish the Continental Free Trade Area.

This is why Nigeria welcomes the Progress Report just presented. Nigeria congratulates H.E. President Muhammadu Issoufou for his excellent role as our African Union “Champion for the Continental Free Trade Area.” President Muhammadu Issoufou has significantly advanced our goal to conclude and launch the Continental Free Trade Area.

Excellencies, Nigeria appreciates the effort of the African Union Commission, particularly the strong technical support by the Trade and Industry Commissioner and his Team. We will continue to give President Muhammadu Issoufou and the African Union Commission complete support in Nigeria’s capacity as the Chair of the Negotiating Forum and Chairperson of the African Union Ministers of Trade.

The stakes in the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area are very high. The benefits are wide-ranging and significant. The primary objective is economic, namely; to create a single market for trade in goods and Services on the continent.

A single unified market would lead to a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement amongst African Union Member States. If we integrate Africa’s market for trade in goods and services, we will not only double intra-African trade but also to negotiate with other regions or continents on trade matters.

If we increase our trade, we grow faster, create more jobs and reduce poverty. Thus, with the Continental Free Trade Area, our continent will be more integrated, united and prosperous.

The objective and benefits are in fact more than economic. The establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area is also the first step for the African Union in the implementation of “Agenda 2063” for the socio-economic transformation of the continent as well as being a building block in the achievement of the goals of the 1991 Abuja Treaty on the African Economic Community.

The benefits of the Continental Free Trade Area are clear. The Free Trade Area will carry significant welfare gains associated with increased production, consumption and revenue. It will generate more economic growth, enhance efficiency and support enterprise and innovation. Indeed, the Single Market will be another step in uniting Africa and consolidating the architecture of the African Union.

We must move quickly and together as Member States of the African Union to lend our strategic support for the Continental Free Trade Area. Nigeria welcomes the Report and calls for this Summit to endorse the Report presented by H.E. President Muhammadu Issoufou without delay.

I thank you all.