The National Technical Committee on the European Union/ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiation on Thursday said Nigeria might lose its fiscal revenue by endorsing the agreement.
The Vice-Chairman of the committee, Prof. Ademola Oyejide, made this known at the opening of the committee’s meeting in Abuja.
Oyejide said that the meeting was geared toward re-examining the consequences and advantages of endorsing the agreement and deciding whether to go into direct agreement with the EU or not.
While giving an overview of the agreement, he said, West African countries would have an exclusion list of 25 per cent of their total imports from the EU.
According to him, those products will not be subjected to liberalisation.
He said that ECOWAS countries were free to impose import duties on the imports under the 25 per cent, while the remaining 75 would be subject to liberalisation.
He, however, identified loss of Nigeria’s fiscal revenue as part of the 10 reasons the nation was opposing the agreement.
The vice-chairman listed other reasons as not offering enough protection in the Nigeria perspective to ensure continuous existence of its industries.
He said that the agreement did not address the issue of reimbursement of the fiscal loss estimated to be about 1.3 trillion Dollars.
Oyejide said that the negotiation of the agreement, which started 12 years ago, was concluded in January, adding that every ECOWAS country had been given Oct. 1 to append its signature in acceptance of the agreement.
“The negotiation between EU and West African countries on this agreement started 12 years ago, the agreement deals with trade relations between ECOWAS member countries and the EU member countries.
“The basic idea is that the relationship will be structured in such a way that on the first day of the agreement, EU will open its markets to goods exported from West African countries 100 per cent.
“Secondly, all the goods that West African countries will export to the EU member states will be able to enter without being subjected to import tariff.
“And in exchange the West Africa countries will open their markets to products imported from EU countries and the opening will not be as full as that of the EU,’’ he said.
Oyejide explained that one of the consequences of not entering into the agreement was inability to have common external tariff with other ECOWAS countries.
He, however, explained that inability to operate common external tariffs could encourage a lot of smuggling within ECOWAS countries.
“If we stay outside that agreement Nigeria’s access to ECOWAS market as well as the access of our colleagues in ECOWAS countries to Nigeria market will be lost,’’ he said. [NAN]