NUTGTWN, Oshiomole warn FG on implementation of AfCFTA

•Task Buhari on Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy

THE President of National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGWN), John Adaji, and the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole, have  cautioned the Federal Government on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Besides, they tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy in order to revive the Nigeria textile industry.

According to them, the implementation of AfCFTA, may eventually lead to a situation whereby the country would be flooded with illicit foreign products to the detriment of the locally produced goods.

Adaji and Oshiomole, while speaking at the 32nd Annual National Education Conference of the NUTGTWN and the  commemoration of 2020 Africa Industrialisation Day, admonished Nigeria to learn from past mistakes of various trade agreements while implementing AfCFTA.

In his address, Adaji said Nigeria must seek to ensure that implementation of the new trade agreement does not undermine current efforts at industrial revival, particularly in relation to the textile and garment industry.

Citing relevant cases, NUTGTWN President, stated that the country’s uncritical membership of World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1997 with attendant massive lowering of tariffs through wholesale trade liberalization led to massive collapse of labour intensive industries like textiles due to unfair competition.

He emphasized that one of the major problems of the textile industry in Nigeria today was smuggling. Adaji said: “Fair trade within the AfCFTA and the current and future jobs in our textile and garment industries will be further devastated if African customs authorities across the board do not properly manage their borders to prevent a flood of illicit imports from abroad into Africa and the breaking and undermining of rules.”

According to him, African nations and Nigeria in particular must work together to attract investment, grow local manufacturing and combat smuggling.

He said: “Many believe that AfCFTA, when fully implemented, could be a critical breakthrough to improving intra-regional trade, cross border trade and economic integration, creating jobs and contributing to the sustainable industrialization of the continent. But the truth is that Africa has never been short of economic and policy documents. The African trade and investment policy landscape is littered with failed grand plans and ambitious policies that have not succeeded in bringing about much-needed trade.”

He tasked President Buhari to ensure holistic implementation of the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy to revive the textile industry.

Adaji said: “We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure holistic implementation of the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy to fully revive the sector. Textile Industry remains a critical plank for addressing the current unemployment challenge in the country.”

“We hope to critically reflect on the implications of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and COVID-19 crisis for sustainable industrial revival, job creation and national development.”

Also, Oshiomhole warned that unless there is improved policing of the border, the country could be flooded with cheap textile materials at the expense of local manufacturers

The former General Secretary of NUTGTWN and President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), recalled that a waiver granted to importers of textile materials during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration led to the collapse of textile mills in Nigeria.

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