NIGERIA – Trade professionals have warned of imminent collapse of the Nigerian manufacturing sector if the recently signed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) fully takes off.

ECOWAS countries by this agreement would open up 70 percent of their markets to EU goods, while having one hundred percent access to the European market except for rice and sugar.

The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in July 2014 endorsed the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU.

Although Nigeria is yet to endorsed or ratify the agreement but experts are of the opinion that most of the products from Europe will end up in Nigeria from the neighbouring countries since the ECOWAS boarders are free.

The Vice President of NACCIMA Alhaji Ahmad Rabiu in his submissions recently noted with appreciation that Nigeria has got an industrial policy aimed at developing SMEs and drive industrialization, but that the EPA portends threats because of harsh competition that local industries would be made to face against European producers that are dinning fat on the table of subsidy and robust infrastructure.

Prof Ademola Oyejide, University of Ibadan who spoke on ‘Mitigating the Negative Impact of the EPA on the Nigerian Economy’, also noted that most of the EPA results now in contention were identified prior to initiation of negotiation.

Prof Oyejide identified the key concerns of Nigeria to include: loss of tariff revenue; loss of industrial capacity/output and employment; loss of policy autonomy; inadequacy of EPA-related support fund.

He regretted the inadequate participation of Nigerian government and the private sector in the EPA negotiations as well as other ongoing trade negotiations such as the Doha Development Round, the ongoing African Continental Free Trade Agreement, etc.

National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) President, Mr Ken Ukaoha regretted what he described as the “long existing ambivalence in the determination of the exact position of Nigeria” throughout the negotiation, in spite of the constant red flag raised by the organized private sector on the implications of the agreement.

Recently the Minister of Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga, who is vested with the responsibility of reviewing Nigeria’s position on the EPA within the context of implications of the country not signing the EPA, set up an Inter-ministerial Committee to review the implications.

The experts urged the federal government to act very fast on dealing with the issues. – Daily Trust

November 10, 2014;