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’How EPA will underdevelop Nigeria’s economy’

Daily Trust (Abuja) | 19 March 2008

Nigeria: ’How EPA Will Underdevelop Nigeria’s Economy’

Misbahu Bashir

Nigerian cocoa producers have said that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will underdevelop Nigeria’s economy.

The cocoa producers are worried over the European Union’s (EU) strict conditions on export, as written in the EPA. President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Alfun Adegbulu told the Minister of Commerce and Industry Engineer Charles C. Ugwuh in Abuja that the EU standard that makes it necessary for exporters to add value to cocoa is a big challenge to cocoa merchants in Nigeria.

He said the preconditions laid down by the EU in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which Nigeria is not a signatory provides for value addition on the cocoa meant to be exported to the European Countries. He said the inability of Nigerian cocoa producers to comply with the standards has attracted higher tariff to exporters.

"The tariff has gone as high as 55 per cent of the cost of the commodity, making it impossible to make reasonable gains from transaction," he said. He called on the Federal Government to find a way of addressing the problem so as to enable cocoa business thrive. "Ghana had to sign the EU Agreements because 70 per cent of her income relies on cocoa," he said. The Minister said a committee has already been established by the Federal Government to examine both the advantages and disadvantages of the Agreements to Nigeria. He said Government is planning to take away some percentage of the high tariff which is imposed on Nigeria’s, cocoa so as to reduce loss on the part of the exporters.

It would be recalled that the Senegalese President Abdulaye Wade had called for an outright rejection of the EPA. The president of the African Business Roundtable Bamanga Tukur has said that the EPA was not conceived in the interest of Africa.