As African Countries prepare for the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Agreement in July this year, Senior Partner of A.B and David Pan African law firm, David Ofosu-Dorte, says Nigeria’s continuous closure of its border with Benin will not derail the purpose of the pact.
Nigeria, which is West Africa’s biggest economy, closed its border with Benin alleging the smuggling of cheap goods and weapons through the route.
The decision has affected businesses in Ghana and others in the sub-region. Reacting to a question about how the move could derail a successful implementation of the Continental Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Ofosu-Dorte said there’s an opportunity to create other channels to enhance continental trade.
“We should not confuse Nigeria’s closure of its border with the free trade agreement. At the time Nigeria closed its borders the reason it gave had to do with smuggling of goods from Benin. I don’t think Nigeria targeted Ghana as an example.”
“So for instance, if we had a shipping line moving between Ghana to Nigeria, we could have exported our goods to Nigeria without having that challenge based on the closure of the border,” he stated.
He further stated that: “without going into whatever made Nigeria close its border, I will not confuse that with the AfCFTA. Nigeria itself needs the AfCFTA. There are three countries in Africa which are key when it comes to size: Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. I believe these; who have signed on to the agreement, will all become very proactive.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit last month predicted that the African countries signed up to the landmark continental free trade agreement will be forced to push forward the July 1st, 2020, commencement date of trading.
The business intelligence and advisory firm said despite more than a year’s grace period, the 27 countries including Ghana, which have signed the agreement and ratified the deal, will not be ready to commence trading in the new trading zone.
The firm in its latest economic update on Ghana said it remains skeptical as to whether most AfCFTA signatory states will be ready to implement the agreement by the July 2020 deadline— mainly because their governments are too distracted or uninterested to implement it meaningfully.