By Franklin Alli
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), yesterday, hailed the Federal Government’s decision not to join other West African States to endorse the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the European Union, as this action would prevent the country from losing N208 trillion ($1.3 trillion) revenue.
The Economic Partnership Agreement is a reciprocal preferential trade Agreement being promoted by the European Union to create a Free Trade Area (FTA) between the EU and the African, Caribbean and pacific Group of States [ACP] through six regional economic communities into which the ACP is divided’
Signing the EPA in its present form, would cost Nigeria alone $1.3 trillion revenue losses from finished goods coming from the European Union while the negative effects EPA would have on local manufacturing range from shutdown of local industries and job losses due to unfair competition.
MAN, in a statement signed by its director general Remi Ogunmefun, said Our commendation is sequel to the briefing to stakeholders by the Honorable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, July 24, 201’4, where he reiterated the determination of Nigeria to continue to pursue the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NlRP), local content policies, and transformation in Agriculture sector amongst others.
The Minister was categorical that based on the mission of Government in these areas, it is inconceivable that the Federal Government will ignore national interest, particularly genuine concerns expressed by stakeholders in the country and go ahead to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement.
It will be recalled that the Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at their meeting in Accra, Ghana on July I0, 2014 approved the EPA and instructed the regional chief Negotiators to take steps to start the process of signing and implementing the agreement.
Nigeria, at various stages in the EPA negotiation process, had voiced strong opposition to the agreement and raised concerns that the Agreement could only lead to deindustrialisation in West Africa, with serious economic and employment consequences for Nigeria because of her 60 percent share of the regional market and Gross Domestic Product (77 per cent).
MAN opposition is also premised on the fact that from all parameters, West African States, including Nigeria are not at the same level of economic development with any European country to warrant the conclusion of a reciprocal trade relationship espoused in the trade agreement with EU.
MAN is therefore advising that notwithstanding the status of EPA and ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), Nigeria should continue to insist on the incorporation of the 196 tariff lines which the country had earlier recommended for reclassification in the CET regime in addition to the urgent need to design appropriate instruments that will take care of the 241tariff lines that currently enjoy various levels of levies as protective measures in Nigeria’
Earlier, Chief Kola Jamodu, President of MAN, noted “no country can develop without protecting its industries; he added that Nigeria stands the risk of having its market flooded by European goods with resultant negative effect on our industries and economy” if the EPA is approved in its present form.