- OPS Rejects Economic Partnership Pact With EU
Members of the Organised Private Sector have once again expressed reservations about Nigeria signing the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
They made their position known at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Stakeholders’ Forum on the EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement in Lagos on Tuesday.
The EPA is a trade and development agreement negotiated by the EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific partners engaged in regional economic integration processes.
The agreement also comes with substantial EU aid for trade.
The purpose of the agreement is to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and thus, to help the developing partners grow their economies and create jobs.
According to the Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Michel Arrion, the EU has pledged to open up its market 100 per cent for Nigerian goods to come in duty free, while giving Nigeria the freedom to select the goods that can come into its shores.
Most of the business owners present at the forum expressed reservations about the offer, noting that poor infrastructure and other environmental challenges had robbed Nigeria of the competitive edge that would allow it to benefit fully from the trade agreement.
The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, has consistently opposed the signing of the pact because of Nigeria’s poor competitive edge.
Jacobs argued that because Nigerian manufacturers lacked the resources to produce goods that could compete globally in terms of pricing, Nigeria would become a dumping ground for products from the EU and other partner nations in the pact.
He noted that while the interest rates for most of the countries were still negative or single digit, Nigerian business owners were faced with borrowing at the rate of 18 to 23 per cent to fund their enterprises.
He said the local manufacturers were equally spending a lot of money to generate power.
Speaking in support of the MAN’s president’s position, the National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Chief Alaba Lawson, in a speech delivered on her behalf by an official of NACCIMA, Uzo Uwajeh, stated that although the proposed EPA agreement offered a ready market for Nigerian products, the high interest rates, devalued currency and infrastructural challenges facing the real sector had made it difficult for the real sector to take full advantage of the EPA.