The one-day workshop for the validation of the report on banking services and Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Consultation ended today in Abuja, Nigeria. The objective was to bring together various stakeholders in the Banking Services Sector to review the findings of the draft report and contribute to its finalization. The workshop was also an opportunity to consult on the state of implementation of the Action Plan for Boosting Intra African Trade (BIAT) and Preparations for the CFTA Negotiations in Nigeria. It was co-organized by the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Representing the Trade and Industry Directorate of the African Union Commission, Mr. Nadir Merah, Head of Trade Division, expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the excellent partnership and unreserved support in conducting the study on Banking Services in Nigeria and organizing the workshop. He commended the Government for the steps taken towards preparation for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Negotiations and for the successful efforts towards diversification of the economy especially in development of the success sector. Special appreciation was extended to the Joint Europe- Africa Support Mechanism (JEAS-SM) for the financial support in conducting of the study.
Mr. Merah noted that the service sector could provide an alternative engine of growth, enabling some latecomers to development to “leapfrog” what has been seen as the traditional manufacturing route to development. The Services sector accounts for an average 49% of GDP in the low income countries and 47% in the LDCs. Despite the success stories services exports in Africa, the Head of Trade Division indicated that there is a big gap between the awareness of government in public sector and services operators and firms in the private sector, where integration in services is happening. “Raising awareness to overcome this “perception gap” in Africa is critical at the continental level as well as at the sub-regional and national levels, where the incorporation of Service Sector development into mainstream economic planning and development priorities remains lagging”, he emphasized.
In conclusion, he underscored that the success of Nigeria in exporting banking services comes at timely moment when the Heads of AU Heads of State and Government have endorsed a Decision to negotiate trade in Services and Trade in Goods concurrently. The fact that Nigeria has started national CFTA consultations is evidence that Africa is committed to its integration.
In his statement, Mr. Abubakar Aliyu, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, expressed his appreciation to the African Union Commission for choosing Nigeria as case study of successful services exporters of banking services. “This study examines Nigeria’s trade in services policy context and in particular, the structure and performance of Nigeria’s Banking Sector with regards to the export of Banking Services”, he mentioned. He also indicated that Nigeria has already embarked on national CFTA consultations hence the workshop was another opportunity in the CFTA negotiations preparations. “At the end of this validation workshop, I expect you to jointly agree on a clear cut and very realistic Action Plan with agreed timelines towards the realization of a more viable Banking Sector in Nigeria expending to Africa and the world”, he concluded.
The workshop was attended by Representatives of Ministry of Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nigerian Central Bank, Private Banks, Insurance companies, Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), West African Chamber of Commerce, Universities and other higher institutions of learning, among others.
Source: African Union Commission (AUC)