The Secretariat of the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area, NAC-AfCFTA,  said that the Federal Government has kicked off preparation for the second phase of AfCFTA to onboard 10, 000 Nigerian businesses and exporters onto the Guided Trade Initiative, GTI, for the actual commencement of trade across borders under the Agreement before the end of 2023. This was made known in a statement signed by the Senior International Trade Policy/Trade Law Expert, NAC-AfCFTA Secretariat, Olusegun Olutayo. According to Olutayo, the GTI is an integral part of the AfCFTA, which aims to facilitate and enhance trade activities by providing businesses and exporters with the necessary tools, knowledge, and support from the authorities.

The statement quoted the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who made the disclosure of onboarding 10, 000 Nigerian businesses and exporters onto the GTI, recently at the launching of GTI and workshop with the theme ‘Connecting Nigerian Businesses to AfCFTA’, organised by the Secretariat of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA (NAC-AfCFTA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC. According to the Minister, the main objective of the GTI is to start trading under the preferences of the AfCFTA Agreement among an interested group of States Parties that are certified as having met the minimum threshold for the start of commercial meaningful trade.

Otunba Adebayo said that the GTI also aims to achieve four specific objectives of Demonstrate the efficiency of the legal framework of the AfCFTA instruments; Obtain feedback on the effectiveness of the legal and institutional national systems in the participating countries; Test the readiness of the private sector to participate in trade under the AfCFTA; and Identify possible future interventions to increase intra-African trade and maximise the benefits of the AfCFTA. Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, the National Action Committee on the AfCFTA, Olusegun Awolowo, pointed out that participating in the Guided Trade Initiative, GTI, offers strategic advantages that Nigeria’s businesses can leverage.

Olusegun said: “Strategic advantages that Nigeria’s businesses can leverage through GTI include: Enhanced Market Access, Increased Competitiveness, Economic Diversification, Job Creation and Poverty Alleviation.”

According to the statement, the Executive Secretary of the NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak, in a remark, said while Nigeria’s export revenue continue to increase as result of new initiatives and government policies that created enabling environment for exporters, the AfCFTA will be a major boost for intra-African trade and Nigeria which is the largest economy in the continent. Yakusak noted that the Guided Trade Initiative has attracted the trading interest and participation of seven State Parties – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tanzania, representing the five regions of Africa. “The GTI is an important development and the latest attempt to start some preferential trade in goods under the auspices of the AfCFTA, while NEPC and other government agencies provided Nigerian businesses and exporters with needed guidance and support to navigate the complex trade landscape and fully exploit the potential of the agreement”, Yakusak said. The workshop attracted participants from the government institutions, trade missions in Nigeria, export associations, traders and members of the organised private sector.