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Monday, 12 June 2017

Trade Negotiation Office to Advise How to Resolve EPA Challenge

When it fully takes off, the newly-approved Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN) is to advise the federal government on how best to go about resolving the contentious Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah has said. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the establishment of NOTN to act as the pivot for the negotiation of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between Nigeria and other countries and agencies. The EPA, which is a response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the European Union (EU) are incompatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) to rules, is a scheme to create a free trade area (FTA) between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), but has been mired in controversy. In an interview in Abuja, Enelamah, who described the EPA as "situated in the 19th century," stated that one of the areas the federal government expected advice from the NOTN and technical experts was on how to resolve the EPA impasse. "One of the areas we expect to get advice from the Nigerian Office on Trade Negotiation/technical experts is on how to resolve the EPA challenge. There is a challenge and the reason why there is a challenge is we negotiated with other countries, and they did not necessarily engage Nigeria, which they should have given 60 per cent of the ECOWAS market. "We have looked at the agreement and we believe that the agreements are situated in the 19th century and we are now in the 21st century. " You know if somebody is trying to plan with you based on where you are today when you are planning to move somewhere else, it will be wise to look ahead and make sure that the agreement anticipates where you are going, the problem with the EPA is that it does not anticipate where we want to be as an industrial economy. "It sort of assumes we bring the raw materials in, we send them to Europe and it says if you bring them in, we will give you access to our market. But then, you will have to give them access to the finished goods to come back. That was the trade of the colonial era and the 20th century," he said.

Source: Allafrica