No Free Trade for Nigeria

An African Union summit was held last month in Rwanda which presented the idea of a continental free trade area in Africa. This agreement would reduce trade barriers such as removing import duties and non-tariff barriers. However, Nigeria one of Africa’s most populous countries and one of its strongest economies chose not to sign this agreement. It makes one wonder as to why a nation as influential in Africa as Nigeria would not want to sign an agreement that would benefit the whole continent especially now during a time where the notion of a United Africa has been brewing  for some time.

Africans depending on Africans would be the ideal economic structure for the continent as it would allow for self-sustenance rather than looking to outside sources for any kind of aid. The proposed agreement mentioned above would help to ease the transferring of goods across country lines within the continent. This would  boost intra-continental business as it would be more feasible to trade within the continent due to less reduced trading restrictions.

However, even with all the benefits that the agreement would bring Nigeria still did not see the need to sign. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria tweeted in response to not signing the agreement that Nigeria will not agree to anything that will undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or that may lead to Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for finished goods. The president is fearful that other nations might be too dependant on his country, as they do have one the strongest economies in Africa. Being the crutch to other nations might stifle their growth, diminishing the strides that the Nigerian economy has been making over the past few years.

Nigeria has been on the rise in recent years and many people across the continent and the globe have been flocking there for economic opportunities. The boom in the Nigerian economy has come without the presence of any kind of agreement with other nations. The country may therefore feel that there is no need to join any union..

President Buhari also declined in signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which is an agreement designed to build a free trade area between certain West African countries and the European Union. Surely an agreement with an entity such as the European Union would be beneficial, as it would allow the flow of certain goods to be transferred between the two states with ease. However the Nigerian government possibly sees the potential for its country to reach great heights and free trade agreements could possibly upset the upward position that their country is going in because it would disrupt some of the industries that are thriving in the country by forcing them to comply with the regulations set forth from the agreement.

It is going to be interesting to see how other African nations and the EU behave towards Nigeria after Nigeria decided not to sign the proposed agreements. Hopefully some type of arrangement can be made so that all parties involved can continue to deal with each other amicably and maintain good relations between each other.

Featured image | 2015-Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at NY event on industrialization in Africa | UNIDO | flickr

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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