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We’ll consult wide before approving ECOWAS-EU free trade deal—Buhari

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…as ECOWAS Commission gets new President

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

ABUJA—President Muhammadu Buhari, Saturday night in Dakar, Senegal, said Nigeria would consult widely before endorsing the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, between Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the European Union, EU, on free trade deals.

The President said it was necessary to do so to allay the fears of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and some other key economic players on the restrictive manufacturing tendencies of the deal on them.

Buhari was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the 49th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS in Dakar.

He stated that Nigeria could not be committed to such an agreement without wide consultations.

He said: “There are ongoing negotiations on it. We are discussing with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and some other key economic players about it.

“We understand some of the terms of this agreement are capable of restricting their-manufacurers-trading activities and  we would not want this to happen.

“It is equally important that as we make the decision, we take into consideration the concerns of these critical stakeholders and tread cautiously.”

While a number of West African nations have endorsed the deal, a few, including Nigeria, have raised issues regarding the implications of the deal being championed by EU.

The EPA is a free trade deal that had been initiated by EU and ECOWAS negotiators covering trade in goods and development cooperation.

On the allegation that some members of ECOWAS were not up-to-date in their financial obligations, President Buhari restated Nigeria’s constant commitment and obligations to the regional body, having recently paid its dues.

This attracted commendation for Nigeria at the summit.

Buhari said: “We are also very committed to ECOWAS. As the largest economy in the region, we have constantly fulfilled our obligations and we intend to continue to do this.”

Meanwhile, the summit, which featured commendations from ECOWAS leaders to Buhari and the nation on the progress recorded by the country against terrorists, also witnessed the swearing in of the new ECOWAS commission President, Mr. Marcel A. de Souza.

Also, the Liberian President Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was chosen as the Chairperson of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, taking over from her Senegalese

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