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Nigerian traders mobilise for 5m signatures against EPA

This Day (Lagos) - August 1, 2005

Nigerian Traders Mobilise for 5m Signature Against EPA

Crusoe Osagie

National Association of Nigerian Traders has joined forces in the moved to secure about 5 million stakeholder signatures against the endorsement of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between European countries and the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries.

Beginning from 2008, 90 percent of all forms of trade in all sectors of the Nigerian economy as well as the economies of countries under the umbrella of the ACP will be open to the highly advanced European market.

The European Union, in the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, hopes to seal this proposal with ACP nations by the end of 2007.

The President of NANTS, Mr Ken Ukaoha, who spoke at a workshop organised by the association to increase the awareness of stakeholders in the South Eastern and South Southern regions of the country in Owerri, Imo state, said that the EPA as it is currently being proposed by the WTO will be injurious to the economies of ACP nations. For this reason, he said, it must be rejected.

"The target of the EU in the agreement is to totally take over the operation of the markets and therefore the economies of ACP countries within a period of 10 years, which is the transition period of the agreement," Ukoha said, adding that they are worried about the agreement because of the impact it will have on the real sector of the economy comprising the agricultural and the industrial sectors.

"There shall be severe impacts on the agriculture and industrial sectors," he said. "Countries will have to open up to 90 percent of their economies to EU goods and services. This means they will no longer be protected by import duties. Subsidised EU goods can enter freely, flooding ACP markets and putting local farmers and small scale manufacturers out of business."

Ukaoha explained that this means that West African farmers will not be able to compete with EU farmers as EPAs threaten sectors like poultry, livestock, dairy, cereals, tomatoes, and onions.

He said what has happened with the poultry sector in several West African countries shows what impact EPA will have on ACP.

"According to EUs own impact assessment on West Africa, EPAs will hamper West Africa’s upcoming manufacturing industry. Other national impact assessments are talking about for example carton packaging, tyres, cycles and metal products.

"Another victim is the agro-allied industry. for example, cooking oils, tobacco, and beverages" he said.

He stated that there shall also be severe impact on government revenues since import duties are an important source of government revenue, ranging from 4.7% in Nigeria to 34% in Gambia.

"If there will be no more import duties on European imports, this will have a severe impact on government income. For instance, Cape Verde will experience 20% decline in government revenue, Gambia 22%. The decline in government revenue in its turn will have an impact on the ability of governments to invest in MDG," Ukaoha explained.

 source: all