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'Free trade pact, gateway to economic freedom'

19 December 2012, 14:36

Lagos - An Economist, Mr Antai Onoh, on Tuesday in Lagos, urged the Federal Government to create more bilateral trade relations with more developed nations to enhance free trade with them.

Onoh told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that effective free trade would promote business relations among nations, adding that it would go a long way to positively stimulate Nigeria’s economy.

"Free trade encompasses many practices and theories but the most common application of free trade is the reduction or removal of trade barriers between or among countries.

"This will allow a freer flow of labour and goods between member countries in a trade pact," he said.

Onoh said that as free trade agreements became more common around the globe, the positive impact on developing countries had been touted as one of their greatest successes.

"There are several advantages we can get from participating in free trade with more developed nations, like increase in employment rate and access to new markets to mention a few," he said.

Onoh said that with free trade pact, developed countries would be able to move their operations into Nigeria, thereby creating new job opportunities for local workers.

"Increased levels of employment lead to a higher standard of living and more consumer spending, this will ultimately improve the country's economy and also help to develop domestic business," he said.

Onoh said that apart from increase in employment rate, there would also be a reduction in child labour, which had been predominant in most developing countries, including Nigeria.

"Child labour occurs in developing countries for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is lack of technology, children are used as a cheap substitute to manufacturing equipment.

"Free trade allows companies to invest in equipment and pay higher wages to adult workers through foreign investment with higher family incomes, children are able to attend school rather than work," he said.

According to Onoh, not only does free trade allow foreign-owned companies to establish themselves in Nigeria, it also allows local companies to sell to foreign markets.

"This expands their customer base and leads to new products and services and the viability of investing in innovation,’’ he said.

Onoh said that government should also improve on infrastructure and security in the country to get the full benefits of free trade.

"There will be no point in entering a free trade pact with other nations when the business environment of the country is not attractive or conducive," he said.



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