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  • ***In Abuja, today (19th June), ECOWAS-15 Regional Stakeholders commenced technical meeting to finalize the Market Access Offer (Schedule) of Tariff Concessions for Trade in Goods, for the operational launch of the AfCFTA, in July, 2019 *** The Goods Market Access Offer (Schedule) shall establish the 90% level of ambition (non-sensitive) and sensitive lists, and staging periods, for the ECOWAS-15, in the AfCFTA. In the AfCFTA, the ECOWAS-15 is negotiating, collectively, as a Customs Union (CU), with a common, undifferentiated Goods Schedule that shall preserve its integrity as a Customs Union *** Nigerian Trade Negotiators were in Addis from 20th May to 8th June to participate at technical negotiations, policy meetings and bilateral engagements, preparatory to the 12thExtraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) for the “Operational Launch” of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA, scheduled for Niamey, Niger, on 7th July. Ambassador Osakwe, Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator, led the Nigerian Delegation *** In Addis, the Nigerian Delegation participated at the meetings of the 15th Negotiating Forum (NF) of the AfCFTA; Senior Trade Officials (STOs) of the African Union; and, the 8th Meeting of the African Ministers of Trade (AMOT). Ambassador Osakwe, DG NOTN and Ambassador Albert Muchanga, AU Industry and Trade Commissioner, with their Teams, undertook a detailed technical review of the legal and policy status of the AfCFTA and the envisaged draft package to be submitted for decisions to the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Niamey Summit *** WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, on the margins of the OECD Ministerial Meeting in Paris, participated at the WTO Informal Ministerial meeting on 23 May. Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, at the WTO Informal Ministerial, urged Ministers to address systemic challenges and advance negotiating work in parallel. Azevêdo advised intensified work on fisheries subsidies, if there was to be a successful outcome by the agreed end-of-year deadline ***

STATE OF PLAY ON THE AfCFTA SENSITIZATION AND CONSULTATION EXERCISE

As directed by the Presidency, the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations conducted a nationwide, sectoral and industry wide consultation and sensitization exercise on the African Continental Free Trade Area from the 15th of March to the 14th of June, 2018. The process of Nation-wide sensitization was transparent and substantive. It set a standard for openness. Complex technical issues were explained rigorously to both Government and Private Sector Stakeholders. It was a hugely beneficial exercise in the sustained efforts by Government to explain, consult and in turn, improve understanding on trade-related competitiveness issues. The adopted Communiqués, Factual Summary and autonomously submitted communiqués attest to the rigour and scope of the exercise. These outputs have been submitted to the Government and shall be posted on the website of the NOTN. A total of twenty-seven (27) groups were consulted in dedicated meetings, including NACCIMA, NASME, MAN, FESPAN, RIPAN, PAN and the NLC. The sensitization exercise also included meetings within consultative forums in all the 6 geopolitical zones, involving one thousand seven hundred and fifty-one (1751) persons. The results of consultations with Stakeholders in the 6 Nigerian Geopolitical Zones were reflected in 5 Communiques and 1 Factual Summary, openly, and transparently adopted and available to the public. In addition, the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations invited inputs from the entirety of the Nigerian public and private sector inputs to accompany the submission of autonomous inputs to the Government. The requests for inputs were called for through radio, TV, daily newspapers and social media. Eleven (11) private sector Stakeholders, autonomously, submitted signed inputs to the Federal Government of Nigeria, as follows:  Association of Women Entrepreneurs (AWEP);  National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMMA);  Federation of South-South Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (Fossccima);  Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASMEs);  Nigerian Agri-Business Group (NABG);  Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN);  Digital Economy (Jumia);  Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE);  Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG);  Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS); and,  Nigerian Proforce Defence Company. In terms of the state of play on the substance of the AfCFTA, Nigeria is currently re-focused on its continued working relationship with relevant MDA’s and the Organised Private Sector, to coordinate a joint position for Nigeria on the AfCFTA. As at date the preparation of the draft list of tariff lines that would eventually be validated as a Draft Schedule for Tariff Concessions for Trade in Goods is an active process underway. The process was initiated with a communication to MAN, requesting for inputs, on the 11th May. The request for inputs from MAN followed dedicated meetings with MAN on 15th March, 27th April and telephone contacts. Technical inputs were received from MAN, based on which the non-draft offer was forwarded to MAN on 11th May. A technical feedback is still being awaited from MAN. MAN has not acknowledged the draft and a technical feedback is still awaited from MAN. Furthermore, on 6th June, the same non-draft offer was circulated to the OPS (NASME, NACCIMA, LCCI and re-circulated, again to the MAN). On 26th June, the Technical Working Group on Goods, chaired by NOTN, started the process of reviewing the non-Draft Offer on Goods, with the participation of MAN. This process is envisaged to continue for the next 1 month to be finalized, following a final review with the Tariff Technical Committee (TTC), with competent jurisdiction for Nigerian Tariffs. Concerning rules of Origin, Annexed to the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods, is the Annex on Rules of Origin, with general provisions on the rules of origin (specifically, wholly obtained, substantial transformation, proof of origin, verification of origin and processes not conferring origin). As agreed in the AfCFTA, product-specific rules of origin shall be work in progress, over a 24-month period. In addition to this, safeguard measures have been negotiated, and are reflected in Annex (Annex 9) on Trade Remedies, to the Protocol on Trade in Goods. These Trade Remedies encompass Preferential Safeguard Measures; Anti-Dumping; and, Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. This Annex shall come into force with the coming into force of the AfCFTA. However, one of the deficiencies in Nigeria’s conduct and management of trade policy is the absence of a Trade Remedy Infrastructure. This one of the mandates by the Federal Executive Council in the establishment of the NOTN. Currently, Nigeria’s capacity for the invocation and application of a trade remedy infrastructure is being developed. The calendar for establishment of the Trade Remedy Infrastructure is December 2018. As we build the partnership and expand the constituency for trade and investments as engines for growth in the Nigerian economy, the NOTN office, welcomes and appreciates the inputs, technical and professional support received from the OPS and partner MDAs, through the course of this exercise. Economies that are open to trade and investment and provide appropriate, pro-development safeguards in a rules-based global economy will prosper and thrive. The NOTN office remains committed to the process of creating market opportunities for the Nigerian Economy and our thriving industries.