The decision was taken during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting as the agreement formally takes effect from January 1, 2021.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who briefed newsmen after the FEC meetiug said though the implementation of the trade agreement was supposed to start from July, this was stalled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the Wednesday ratification takes care of the December 5 deadline for African countries to ratify their members.
He said, “The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment presented a memo today (yesterday) asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“You remember that on the 7th of July, 2019, Nigeria signed the AfCTA agreement in Niamey during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU). The effective date ought to have been July 2020, but as a result of the pandemic, it was postponed to the 1st of January 2021, and all member-states were given up to the 5th of December to ratify the agreement.
“That is precisely what Nigeria did today. The Federal Executive Council approved the ratification of the membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. It was ratified and as such, we beat the deadline of the 5th of December. Effectively, we hope that by 1st of January 2021, the agreement will come into force.”
It would be recalled that 44 African countries had adopted and signed the trade agreement to establish AfCFTA which was introduced in 2012 during the 18th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).
Nigeria was not one of the countries that signed the agreement then as the did not attend the meeting.
President Muhammadu Buhari later in reaction said he was going to consult stakeholders before signing the agreement.