The European Union (EU) and ECOWAS Commission have urged the Federal Government to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, to enhance its diversification agenda and regional integration. Filippo Amato, the Head of Trade and Economic Section, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, gave the advice on Tuesday in Lagos.
Mr. Amato gave the advice at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Stakeholders forum on EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement.
He said that signing the EPA would accelerate Nigeria’s industrial development, discard EU tariffs on Nigerian exports, protect domestic industries, agricultural and consumer products.
“All the goods that Nigeria can produce are excluded from the list to protect your industries and goods to be imported are capital goods, machineries and inputs that are useful for the industrial sector.
“All West Africa exports will gradually reduce duties on 75 per cent of EU imports over a long transition period of 20 years,” he said.
The EU official stressed that manufacturers would benefit from lower input prices under the agreement, adding that EPA would enhance cooperation on issues such as standards, trading, agriculture, investment and custom cooperation.
Laouali Chaibou, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, said that the agreement would make the region’s production the centres for export to Europe.
“The integration of ECOWAS and Nigeria in the global value chains therefore involves the ability of this country to attract investments from all walks of life either to transform local raw materials or semi-finished products elsewhere and the EPA is one of the instruments to achieve this,” he said.
Nike Akande, the President of LCCI, said that the forum was to find a middle ground to arguments of Nigeria’s endorsement of the EPA.
She said that competitiveness was paramount for any country to get a fair deal in international trade, adding that creating an enabling environment would deepen Nigeria’s firms’ competitiveness.
Alaba Lawson, The National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, said that the EPA should be suspended until the country’s infrastructure challenges were solved.
She said that the nation’s economy would truly benefit from the agreement if right measures were first initiated, adding that outputs from many sectors would compete with imports from EU countries.