Nigerian government has exempted cement, flour, rice, sugars and 180 other products from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal.
These items were exempted from the list, based on national priorities, trade volume, priority, food security and competitive advantage, The Guardian reported.
A complete list is expected before the end of the month after consideration from the Tariff Technical Committee.
The AfCFTA seeks to expand market space for member countries’ exports and reduce the cost of importing goods and services. The agreement hinges on five major policies; trade in goods, trade in services, dispute settlement, investment and intellectual property rights and competition policy.
The goal of the agreement is to eliminate the bulk of the tariffs on goods, and barriers like difficult customs procedures and solve challenges including smuggling, abuse of rules of origin, low production and service capacities, poor infrastructure and revenue loss.
Despite the plans for a single market, Nigeria still prohibits up to 26 goods from being imported, the Central Bank denies foreign exchange at official market rates to importers of more than 40 other goods.
Rice tops the list of prohibited products in which the CBN has restricted foreign exchange for and equally accounts for one of the most smuggled items in the country due to local production capacity unable to meet demand. A 50kg bag of local rice presently sells at between N22,000 to N25,000.
The last Consumer Price Index report, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that food inflation climbed by 19.56 percent in December, caused by hikes in the prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam and other food products.
In December 2019, the federal government had set up the National Action Committee (NAC) to guide ministries, departments and agencies and the organised private sector on AfCFTA implementation.
In January, The Nigeria Customs Service said it was yet to receive clear directives from the National Action Committee (NAC) on implementable tariffs for all goods covered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.