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Why we didnít sign EU/ECOWAS trade agreement Ė FG

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IMAGE: Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga »





The Federal Government has explained why it did not sign the trade liberalisation agreement being pushed forward by the European Union under the Economic Partnership Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said the Federal Government’s delegation to the ECOWAS summit led by President Goodluck Jonathan raised 10 objections to what was presented to the country.

Aganga, who spoke in Abuja during a working lunch in honour of the Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Mr. Li Yong, on Sunday, noted that the objections were done in the overall interest of the Nigerian economy.

The minister, whose ministry played a major role in the EPA negotiations, said certain provisions of the agreement, which Nigeria was expected to sign at the ECOWAS Heads of States meeting in Yamoussoukro, Cote D’Ivoire, last week, were not in the overall best interest of the nation’s economy.

Under the EPA, the European Union will immediately offer the 15-member ECOWAS and non-member state, Mauritania, full access to its markets.

In return, ECOWAS will gradually open up 75 per cent of its markets, with its 300 million consumers, to Europe over a 20-year period.

The technical negotiations were wrapped up last month with the European Union, which offered a €6.5bn (about $8.94bn) package over the next five years to help ECOWAS to cushion the effects and costs of integrating into the global economy.

The ECOWAS countries that are expected to participate in the agreement are Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Niger and Togo.

Aganga said, “The EPA agreement is not ready for endorsement by the Heads of State and Governments. During the meeting last week, Nigeria raised 10 objections to what was presented to us and the Summit of Heads of State ratified it.

“Consequently, a committee from Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal looked at the issues raised by member states, particularly Nigeria, and came up with a proposal. When we went into the meeting, the whole idea was to endorse it; but of course, we had various reservations concerning the agreement based on our model and the feedback we got from our private sectors.”

He added, “One major reservation was that the way the agreement was done, which of course they expected us to sign, would not be in the overall interest of the Nigerian economy over the long term. For instance, in the area of market access, the EU wants us to open our market by 75 per cent over a 20-year period.”

Article Credit: Punch Newspaper

Updated 5 Years ago

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Tags:     European Union     Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)     Mr. Li Yong     President Goodluck Jonathan     Mr. Olusegun Aganga