By Walcott Aganu

The AfCFTA presents an obvious and critical response to Africa’s developmental challenges, having the potential to enable African countries to boost intra-Africa trade significantly and to improve economies through an integrated market. It contains potential to be a catalyst for industrial development, placing Africa on a path to exporting value-added products and enhancing its competitiveness within its markets and globally.

The AfCFTA is expected to eliminate import tariffs on 97% of goods traded on the continent and address non-tariff barriers. While opening up a market of over 1.3 billion people, it’s expected to spur more intra-African trade while increasing the appeal to investment in Africa. 

As the start of trading under the AfCFTA marks a new era in Africa’s development journey, the Nigerian government expects exporters and business people in Nigeria to follow these stipulated steps. These steps are contained in a public statement issued by the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) and signed by its Acting Director-General/Chief Trade Negotiator, Victor Liman.

The steps by the NOTN involve an assemblage of documents and requirement. They are directed to exporters as it is to agents who manage trade and export transactions within and outside Nigeria:

  • Exporter or agent must secure all necessary licenses, permits, certificates and necessary documents from relevant agencies like Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) and others.
  • Ensure that the product qualifies for export under AfCFTA.
  • Next, create a bill of entry, attach all relevant permits from government agencies, and secure reservations with shipping or airline companies. Apply for Nigeria Customs Service AfCFTA Certificate of Origin after paying a fee.
  • The Nigerian Customs Service is the issuer of the certificate; however, NACCIMA must vet the application. 
  • Pay the stipulated fee.
  • Other accompanying documents required for shipment under AfCFTA should be included: Certificate of Origin, Nigerian Customs Bill of Entry, Bill of Lading, Packing List, and Certificate of Analysis.
  • Compulsory AfCFTA trading documents are:
    • Supplier/Producer’s declaration form.
    • Origin of the declaration form
    • AfCFTA Certificate of Origin 

These documents will be requested before leaving the seaport or airport.

What You Should Note:

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which took off on January 1, 2021, is expected to create the world’s largest free trade area measured by the number of countries participating.

The pact, which connects about 1.3 billion people across 54 countries with a gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $3.4 trillion, can lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty. However, achieving its full potential will depend on significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.

The scope of AfCFTA is enormous as the agreement will reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services and regu­latory measures such as sanitary standards and technical trade barriers. Full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors.