The Federal Government has ratified Nigeria’s membership in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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The decision was taken at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.

Mohammed said with the ratification, Nigeria has beaten the December 5, 2020, deadline set for all countries to ratify their membership.

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The minister said, “The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment presented a memo today (Wednesday) asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“You remember that on July 7, 2019, Nigeria signed the AfCTA agreement in Niamey during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.

“The effective date ought to have been July 2020. But as a result of the pandemic, it was postponed to January 1, 2021, and all member-states were given up to December 5 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. It was ratified and as such, we beat the deadline of December 5. Effectively, we hope that by January 1, 2021, the agreement will come into force.”

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the council also approved N62.7bn for the construction of Kano-Dawakin Tofa-Gwarzo road linking Kano and Katsina States.

“The Ministry of Works and Housing presented one memorandum for the construction of Kano-Dawakin Tofa-Gwarzo-Dayi road and it was approved for N62.7bn, to be executed in 24 months,” the minister said.