EU/ECOWAS agreement harmful to Nigerian economy — Committee

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The National Technical Committee on the European Union/ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiation on Thursday said Nigeria might lose its fiscal revenue by endorsing the agreement. Vice-Chairman of the committee, Prof. Ademola Oyejide, made this known at the opening of the committee’s meeting in Abuja.

economyOyejide said that the meeting was geared towards re-examining the consequences and advantages of endorsing the agreement and deciding whether to go into direct agreement with the EU or not.

While giving an overview of the agreement, he said, West African countries would have an exclusion list of 25 per cent of their total imports from the EU. According to him, those products will not be subjected to liberalization. He said that ECOWAS countries were free to impose import duties on the imports under the 25 per cent, while the remaining 75 per cent would be subject to liberalization.

He, however, identified loss of Nigeria’s fiscal revenue as part of the 10 reasons the nation was opposing the agreement. The vice-chairman listed other reasons as not offering enough protection in the Nigeria perspective to ensure continuous existence of its industries. He said that the agreement did not address the issue of reimbursement of the fiscal loss estimated to be about $1.3 trillion.

Oyejide said that the negotiation of the agreement, which started 12 years ago, was concluded in January, adding that every ECOWAS country had been given October 1 to append its signature in acceptance of the agreement. “The negotiation between EU and West African countries on this agreement started 12 years ago, but the agreement deals with trade relations between ECOWAS member countries and the EU member countries.

“The basic idea is that the relationship will be structured in such a way that on the first day of the agreement, EU will open its markets to goods exported from West African countries 100 per cent.

“Secondly, all the goods that West African countries will export to the EU member states will be able to enter without being subjected to import tariffs. And in exchange, the West Africa countries will open their markets to products imported from EU countries and the opening will not be as full as that of the EU, ‘’ he said. Oyejide explained that one of the consequences of not entering into the agreement was inability to have common external tariffs with other ECOWAS countries. He, however, explained that inability to operate common external tariffs could encourage a lot of smuggling within ECOWAS countries. “If we stay outside that agreement Nigeria’s access to ECOWAS market as well as the access of our colleagues in ECOWAS countries to Nigeria market will be lost,” he said.

FAO urges more sustainable food systems to mitigate, adapt effects of climate change

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has urged countries to shift to more sustainable food systems and step up action to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. The Director-General of the organization, José Graziano da Silva, made the call at the 7th Forum on Agriculture in Morocco on Thursday.

He said “everything we do needs to take climate change into consideration and the time is now. We cannot afford to wait.” He added that climate change had the potential to reconfigure the planet’s food production scenario “because it reintroduces an element of uncertainty.

“After decades in which hunger was caused more by a lack of access to the means to produce or purchase food, rather than insufficient supplies globally, the world’s poorest are particularly vulnerable. Not only do they have fewer means to react, but they also tend to live in already marginal production areas where the impact of climate change in agricultural production is felt to an even greater extent.”

He pointed to the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reflected these concerns and called for urgent action. The director-general also spoke about family farming as tool for rural development and stability, pointing out that the UN had declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming.

The Forum was attended by President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea; Ibrahim Keita of Mali; Aziz Akhannouch, the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries in Morocco and agriculture ministers from a dozen other countries.

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