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Tuesday, 06 May 2014

Nigeria turns down regional trade agreement over weak industrial sector

Nigeria has refused to sign the $8.94 billion (6.5bn Euros) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the EU in order to protect its industrial sector.
Nigeria is a member of the 15-member ECOWAS, which concluded technical negotiations for the trade agreement with the EU on March 28, 2014. ECOWAS will open up 75 percent of its markets to the EU over a 20-year period. In exchange, the EU provided $8.94 billion package over the next five years to help ECOWAS handle the effects and costs of integrating into the global economy.
“The agreement appears harmless because over the first five years, there will be no major impact because they will open all their doors for us to export to Europe. However, the problem here is that, currently, we are not exporting much to Europe and so the benefit will not be significant,’’ said Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment.
Aganga said that, with Nigeria’s current position of import-dependent economy, it would be counter-productive to open doors for imports without first of all making the industrial sector competitive in the global economy, especially in those sectors where the country had comparative and competitive advantage as provided in the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan recently launched.
A committee from Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal has been created to look at the issues raised by member states, particularly Nigeria, and come up with a proposal.
“Nigeria is the biggest country in the ECOWAS and we are already producing some of those goods that they want us to liberalise their importation. What this means is that from 2025-2026, based on the items that have been included and excluded, there will be significant loss of revenue to the government. There will be loss of jobs, investment and loss of even the ECOWAS market,” Aganga said.

Source: BusinessDay