MANUFACTURERS in the country have cautioned the Federal Government over the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being midwifed by the European Union (EU), saying it may spell doom for efforts at industrialising Nigeria and other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the unbridled import that will follow the agreement will lead to shutdown of the few surviving industries, with consequent catastrophic implications for labour market which will further heighten poverty level. The association told The Guardian yesterday that the treaty would also lead to loss of government revenue, erode policy-making space and decrease the welfare of the citizens.
Reacting to the statement made by the EU ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, David MacRae at a forum organised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, urging Nigeria to play a proactive role within the ECOWAS to see the negotiations on EPA to a speedy conclusion, President of MAN, Chief Kola Jamodu said the interim Economic Partnership Agreement initiated by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and the Caribbean EPAs would destroy the existing process of regional cooperation and integration.
MacRae had said that Nigerian businesses would benefit massively from the EPA, stressing the need for trade facilitation to be seen as an opportunity for business to work better and not as yet another set of obligations imposed by government, which are of little relevance to the needs of the business community.
But Jamodu said agriculture would be at risk with the present structure of EPA due to some external and internal factors such as tariff escalation by Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) countries – higher tariffs for processed agricultural products which negate Africa’s capacity for trade. “On the domestic front, the factors include supply-side constraints, poor trade capacity, infrastructure bottlenecks and poor technology, institutions, standards and quality,” he added.
According to Jamodu, the looming danger posed by the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), the precursor to EPA, has started to manifest across all the industrial sectoral groups in Nigeria.