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Friday, 26 May 2017

Nigeria's Trade Dilemma

Is the federal government leaving prosperity on the table by refusing to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement? Earlier this month in Kaduna, on a day Facebook predicted late rainfall, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States), Mr. Michel Arrion took to the podium at a trade and investment seminar for the Kaduna business community. In attendance were the crème de la crème of the state's industrial workforce, manufacturers, and business owners. Arrion, a tall, majestic presence, was enchanting. The primary aim of the seminar was to help Kaduna's business community see the glorious beauty of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a trade deal negotiated and completed over a period of 14 years between the EU and ECOWAS, but which the Nigerian Government had failed to sign off on. In June 2016, Vice-President, Yemi Osibanjo, had told a meeting of West African leaders in Dakar that the country was consulting key stakeholders within its economy before putting pen to paper. "We understand that some of the terms of this agreement are capable of restricting manufacturing and trading activities, and we would not want this to happen," Osibanjo had said. But Arrion was puzzled at what he deems to be economic reticence. Virtually all other countries in ECOWAS have signed off on the deal, but Nigeria, which is the biggest economy in the region, is unsure of opening its markets to Europe. "We are not competitors," Arrion said. "The EU is producing different products from Nigerians. We don't see Nigerians or West Africa as a market for our exportation. We see it much more from a market for our financial investment." He noted that the EU's eagerness in seeing Nigeria's signature on the deal was not borne out of charity or altruism, but from self interest. "First, we see West Africa as our neighbours," he said. "We need stable and prosperous neighbours. Your terrorists are our terrorists. We have a common threat. Your stability is our stability. Your prosperity is our prosperity."

Source: Allafrica

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