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Nigeria: Country rejects EPA

Daily Trust | 7 May 2009

Nigeria: Country Rejects EPA

Abdul-Rahman Abubakar & Turaki A. Hassan

Nigeria is not ready to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) aimed to liberalise trade between Africa, the European Union (EU), Carribean and Pacific countries, Minister of Commerce and Indsutry Chief Achike Udenwa said yesterday.

Briefing Senate Committee on Commerce on the delay in signing the agreement, Chief Udenwa said government is being cautious due to the adverse economic impact the EPA is likely to make on the economy of the country.

The minister said any free trade agreement between Africa and EU is bound to have negative impact of the economy of the latter because "What do we export to Europe, if you look at it we can only export primary products which cannot even compete favourably.

"What will happen is that they will flood our market with manufactured products and our industries will not be able to compete with them. This will lead to creation of employment in Europe and unemployment in Africa."

Chief Udenwa said Nigeria must be cautious in signing such agreement adding that, "We are ill prepared to compete with EU in a free trade environment.

"We have to be very careful because what amount of export can we make to Europe? That is why we fear to sign the agreement."

Speaking to Daily Trust on the matter, Chairman Senate Committee on Commerce, Senator Danlami Joel Ikenya (PDP, Taraba) said the country will sign the EPA only when it will serve its economic interest.

He said, "We are going to draft the agreement according to our dictates not according to someone else’s because if we open our market we don’t have the infrastructures to compete with European countries.

"They will flood our market and render our local industries bankrupt. So we have to wait until we put necessary infrastructures in place." Senator Ikenya said Nigeria will not be rushed into signing an agreement which will end up aggravating the unemployment problem in the country saying, "Even the primary production that we boast of can be taken over by the more advanced countries."