The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Ms Arancha Gonzalez, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Gonzales gave the commendation on Tuesday while speaking to the Nigeria News Agency on the sidelines of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2019.
The WEDF coincides with the ongoing 2019 Africa Industrialisation Week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
She said that the Nigerian President and his team must have come to terms with the reality of the urgent desire to enhance economic competitiveness of Africa.
Gonzalez said that for a long time, there were big and lofty plans toward economic integration but proved to be mere aspirations.
The ITC boss also said that there was no real concrete plan to drive the economic integration.
“There were many big ideas and many declarations before but as far as I could see, the concrete step to lead Africa to a more integrated market started with AfCFTA.
“There are two things that distinguish it from previous exercises.
“One is the level of concreteness and two is that in the past, a lot of these declarations were signed by trade ministers and country negotiators,” she said.
The executive director noted that the AfCFTA would enhance global competitiveness of African goods.
According to her, if African countries do not integrate, they will remain 55 fragmented economies that could not compete globally.
“After enduring domestic misunderstanding about the agreement, it’s heart-warming that President Buhari signed up, she said.
NAN reports that on May 30, 2019, the agreement establishing the AfCFTA officially entered into force.
President Buhari committed Nigeria to the AfCFTA during July African Union Summit in Niamey, Niger.
With 54 out of the 55 member states of the AU signing the agreement, Africa brought into being the largest trading bloc since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
NAN also reports that following the ratification and entry into force of the AfCFTA, five supporting Operational Instruments were launched during the AU Summit in July.
These instruments are the key tools that will support the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA with start of trading scheduled for July 2020.
The instruments are the Rules of Origin; the Tariff concessions; the Continental Online Tool/Mechanism for monitoring, reporting and elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
Others are, the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS); and the African Trade Observatory. NAN
Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Adeleye Ajayi
Stakeholders task African continent on institutionalising financing of AFCFTA
Stakeholders have tasked African continent on the need to put in place institutional and policy mechanisms for the provision of finance for the implementation of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that they disclosed this at a webinar on Tuesday, organised by Conversation with Africa.
The online meeting was entitled: ‘Financing Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement at both Individual and Continental levels.’
In his address, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Botswana and guest of honour at the event underscoref the need to rub minds towards economic freedom.
Matsheka stated that a major policy shift will be required to be developed by member states individually and collectively to give effect to the new economic dispensation.
“African continent will need to put in place institutional and policy mechanisms for the provision of finance to provide structure; short, medium and long term finance to support trading activities.
“It is therefore necessary to explore the appropriate institutional mechanism through which risks in international trade financing can be managed and mitigated to allow enhanced flow of finance.
“The private financial community will have to play a more aggressive and proactive role in laying down financial facilities for the regional international trading community.
“It is therefore a call upon the commercial trade investment financing houses to step forward and formulate innovative strategies to meet this demand in Africa,”he said.
Also, Chief Sola Abodunrin, the President, Ibadan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a panelist at the event emphasized the need for full implementation which he said would increase inter African trade by 52 per cent.
Abodunrin stated that financing for AFCFTA should come from the political will of member states and in collaboration with African Development Bank and other international financial organisations.
“There are a lot of prospects if pension schemes, sovereign wealth funds and insurance funds can be harnessed.
“Most of these funds are invested in Europe and it has to be re-mobilised back to Africa to develop the infrastructure gap that is in Africa.
“It was estimated that Africa has $108billion infrastructural gaps. These funds will help to facilitate trading activities by building rails and roads that will inter cross Africa and make transportation of humans and goods easy,”he said.
Other panelists, Mr Kiprono Kittony, the Vice Chairman Africa, International Chamber of Commerce and Mr Gobusamang Keebine, President Business Botswana, reiterated the need for full implementation of AFCFTA, adding that implementation is always the challenge for any project.
Kittony said: “The financing for AFCFTA can be sought through the capital markets which are very effective ways to galvanise capital and raise money to achieve any long term project.
“Development banks are another option and government funding.
“It is important that African countries should try to prioritise within their budget funding to allow for effective implementation of AFCFTA.”
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Kayode Olaitan (NAN)
NEPC, ITC train 2000 women entrepreneurs for international competitiveness- Awolowo
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) says it has trained no fewer than 2,000 women entrepreneurs in the export sector in conjunction with the International Trade Centre (ITC) for international competitiveness.
The NEPC Executive Director, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said this during a capacity building and export skill acquisition workshop for women entrepreneurs in Akure on Thursday.
The workshop was tagged: “She Trade: An Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs to Acquire Export Knowledge in the Post- Covid-19 Era.”
Awolowo, who was represented by Mrs Iyabode Abe, the NEPC Trade Promotion Advisor (TPA) in Akure, said that the NEPC had been involved in several capacities for women in export programmes.
He said that NEPC had partnered with several international outfits to organise the “She Trade initiatives,Women Breaking Export Barriers” in collaboration with the ITC.
The executive director said that women had also benefitted from Matching Nigeria Women with Potential Buyers and She Trade in the Commonwealth projects.
According to him, NEPC in the last five years, has been taking pragmatic steps to redesign non-oil export direction through a programme tagged: the Zero Oil Plan.
Awolowo urged the women entrepreneurs to be dynamic, information-driven and knowledge-based so as to be successful in their export endeavours.
In her paper presentation, Mrs Leticia Onu of Women Export Unit, NEPC Office, Abuja, said that NEPC had given Nigerian women a lot of opportunities to promote their businesses.
“We have a number of capacity building programmes and they can benefit from our international trade fair abroad. We spearhead the international participation of Nigerians in international exhibitions.
“Women are mostly invited in order to connect them.
“She-Trade is one of the programmes for women and it is intended to get over three million involved globally and Nigeria is targeting at least 300,000 women to connect them with this market.
“We are encouraging women to register and be visible in this market.
“We need to empower women and promote their businesses in international market,” she said.
Onu urged the participants to be technologically-driven and be involved in workshops and seminars for their business growth.
Mr Greatseyi Akintunde, the state Chairman of National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), advised the participants to get their businesses registered so as to to benefit from the government’s economic largesse.
Mrs Modupe Olakunle, the President of Ondo State Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (OSCCIMA), applauded the She Trade initiative and described the workshop as most appropriate at the moment.
Two of the participants, Mrs Juliet Olatunde and Mrs Jennifer Balogun, lauded the programme for enabling them to know the strategies on selling their products through online means.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)
ITC launches groundbreaking tool to track policies for women in trade
The International Trade Centre has announced the launch of SheTrades Outlook, a digital tool that allows governments and others to track progress on gender equality in trade.
It also tracks progress toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 to empower all women and girls.
ITC launched the SheTrades Outlook at a side event of the United Nation’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held in New York.
In a statement issued by the Jarle Hetland, Media Officer of ITC, the body’s acting Executive Director, Dorothy Tembo, said with the SheTrades Outlook, ITC was contributing to making big data work for inclusive trade.
According to Tembo, the tool helps overcome a long-standing barrier-lack of quality data- to make trade policies work for women.
“Better collection and analysis of data on women in trade enables policymakers to build more gender-just economies and boost progress in achieving SDG-5 on empowering all women and girls,” she said
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that speakers at the launch included Mrs Pauline Tallen, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development and Ms Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Others included Mr Tipu Munshi, Minister of Commerce, People’s Republic of Bangladesh and James Duddridge, UK Minister for Africa.
NAN reports that the SheTrades Outlook provides quantitative and qualitative data using 83 indicators across six policy areas.
It contains more than 50 good-practice examples to spur policymakers worldwide to introduce and reform policies that support women in trade.
Funded by the United Kingdom, the project aims to increase the competitiveness of women-owned businesses in international trade by improving the policy environment.
“Africa has the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs in the world, but many have not yet realised their full potential.
“This great new tool will help women globally reap the benefits of trade, bringing economic benefits to their families and communities, as we help the developing world build back better after coronavirus,” said Duddridge.
According to Duddridge, the tool tracks how laws, policies and practices affect women’s participation in business and trade.
He also said it enables comparison across countries and sharing of good practices in Trade Policy, Business Environment, Legal and Regulatory Frameworks, Access to Finance, Access to Skills and Work and Society.
NAN also reports that SheTrades Outlook is based on women-in-trade data − 80 per cent of which has never been collected before – from more than 500 government institutions and private sector organisations.
According to ITC, the tool is set to be rolled out globally after launch with coverage of 25 countries.
The body said it developed SheTrades Outlook as part of SheTrades in the Commonwealth, a dedicated project under the ITC SheTrades Initiative launched in April 2018.
The SheTrades Outlook, available at www.shetrades.com, gives policymakers access to step-by-step guides that enable them to develop free trade agreements, trade policies and public procurement policies that are more responsive to women’s needs.
SheTrades in the Commonwealth aims to deliver training, strengthening and mentoring activities to 3,000 women-owned businesses in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ghana, and Kenya.
It also provides Commonwealth-wide support to governments through advisory services and tools that encourage more gender-responsive trade and trade-related policies.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)
Buhari mourns Sen. Osinowo
President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the family of Osinowo and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the death of Sen. Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo, the Senator representing Lagos East senatorial district.
The president’s condolence message was released by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Monday.
President Buhari observed that, as a member of the ninth senate and Chairman of Senate Committee on Industry and member of other committees, Osinowo worked diligently to advance this administration’s objective of building a better and prosperous Nigeria.
He affirmed that the Senator’s commitment to meet the needs of his community as a four-time member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, devotion to national development as well as insightful contributions at the floor of the Senate would be fondly remembered and missed.
The President prayed almighty God to grant the family of Osinowo, friends and well-wishers the fortitude to bear the loss.
Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)