This Day | 22 Oct 2013
Nigeria Moves to Resist, as EU Tries to Impose EPA
By Crusoe Osagie
The Nigerian government and other stakeholders of the economy are preparing a stiff resistance against the European Union’s (EU) renewed plan to foist a questionable Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on Nigeria, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY investigations at the weekend revealed that as the meeting of the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS coming up in Dakar, Senegal on October 25 approaches, Nigeria’s representatives at the gathering have been properly equipped with information and data with which to stand against the pressure of the EU said to have been effectively contrived to arm-twist Africa’s most populous nation to swallow the EPA deal, which has been identified to be detrimental to Nigeria economic development.
According to THISDAY findings, while Nigeria will ensure a solid participation at the Dakar meeting this Friday, its representatives have been properly schooled to stand up to all attempts by EU to hoodwink the nation into accepting the agreement like smaller countries in West Africa such as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and others have done.
Active in the study of the impact of EPA on the nation’s economy are the stakeholders in the Nigeria trade policy space including government agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Federal Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Private sector stakeholders include the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Abuja Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (ABUCCIMA), representatives of traders and farmers organisations, civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as representative of the ECOWAS Commission, and the National Assembly.
The major issues with which Nigeria will contend with the EU on the EPA meeting in Dakar include the fact that impact analyses on the EPA have always shown that the West African countries stand to lose more while the gains are at best speculative.
Also the agreement’s current market access offer endangers Nigeria’s local production and exports because the EPA liberalises tariff lines, in which Nigeria is not competitive. These products include bottled water, agricultural products (including palm oil), vehicles, oil derivatives and chemical products including fertilisers, worked wood, paper products and light industrial products.
Other contentious areas, according to findings, is that there is need for more studies to determine the potential impacts of the EPA on the Nigerian and West African economy in the light of current realities. Such studies should update the existing studies with current realities and fill the gap where studies have not been carried out earlier, for example, on the impact of EU farm subsidies on West African producers.
Also essential in the EPA deliberation is the fact that the economic depression currently rocking the EU makes it increasingly difficult for the EU to provide the necessary fund for mitigating the adjustment costs, including the loss of revenue on the part of the West African countries. Added to this is the cost of implementation of the EPA in addition to resources required for the capacity building of the private sector as envisaged in Article 37.3 of the Cotonou Agreement.
Stakeholders have cautioned that Nigeria should channel efforts towards improving domestic competitiveness, focusing on infrastructure so as to make Nigerian producers more competitive. And rather than dissipate energy on the EPA through long, time and resource consuming and sometimes static negotiations, Nigeria should concentrate on taking proactive steps towards developing its economy and stop believing or even asking other countries to help.
Participants believe that even the long prayers and lamentations to the EU for the provision of additional funds through the EPADP seems like going cap in hands to the EU or unwittingly selling the Niger/West African economy (market) to the EU in exchange for non existing resources.