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EPA Agreement: Stakeholders Urges FG To Decide On Time
by Ademola Oyejide
4 August 2015

Stakeholders have warned Nigeria against signing the should take a position either to sign or reject the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) agreement between Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and European Union (EU).

Nigeria risks loosing about $1.3 trillion revenue should it sign on the agreement.

They have also called on Federal Government to make Nigeria’s stance known either it was signing on or rejecting it.

The Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), particularly warned of the dangers ahead should Nigeria sign the agreement, saying Nigeria lack the capacity to compete with its european counterpart.

Prof. Ademola Oyejide, a professor of Economics, University of Ibadan in his key note address at the two-day EPA parley in Abuja, noted that the country must make its stand known on the controversial issue.

At the event put together by the publisher of the London based Africa Today, Kayode Soyinka, Oyejide hinted that failure to pull out of the agreement in 2004 had placed Nigeria in a very precarious position.

He said the country should stand up and speak now if it intended continuing with the agreement or not.

Nigeria is yet to sign the agreement which was concluded in February, 2014 by ECOWAS.

Oyejide said, “There must be a clear statement from Nigeria regarding whether the country endorses or does not endorse the EPA."

“Although the agreement has indefinite duration, it is not without a legal option for any signatory to withdraw."

“Even before that point it reached, the agreement has provision for five- early reviews, which can, presumably, be used to undo some of the perceived damages."

“Therefore, Nigeria should rise up to the expectations of its leadership position and decide unequivocally, one way or the other.”

He added that “If Nigeria decides not to sign, there will be plenty of strong evidence in support of that decision. It will, of course.”

Oyejide stressed that should Nigeria fail to sign the agreement, it will also “be clear confirmation that Nigeria failed to do what a responsible country should have done in relation to this issue over the last 15 years speaks volumes about the country’s understanding of and capacity to negotiate trade agreements.”

He further warned that “steps should then be taken to do whatever is necessary to quickly eliminate the deficit because there are other on-going trade negotiations and the continental free trade area (CFTA) negotiation has been launched. The EPA mistakes must be avoided in all current and future trade negotiation."

“The credibility of Nigeria is at stake. In addition, it must be recognised that a decision not to sign the EPA has significant implications for the implementation of the ECOWAS common external tariff (CET), as well as the progression of the region to the status of a customs union."

“I believe that the CET is good for Nigeria in the sense that it will enable the country to commit to and implement a more rational and stable trade regime which should generate more efficiency, growth and employment benefits at a much lower cost than that of the EPA."

“One of the strong reasons for Nigeria to stay out of the EPA is that the economy should first fully internalize the adjustment costs associated with the CET implementation before taking on another set generated by significant trade liberalisation that would come with the EPA."

“Two key features have not been taken full account of in the EPA debate. First, Nigeria‘s trade regime is significantly more protectionist than those of other ECOWAs member countries."

“Second, the UEMOA countries established their CET in 2000 and have therefore had 15 years over which to spread their adjustment costs."

“Any attempt by Nigeria to overlay the EPA-related adjustment costs on top of the CET-related one over the relatively short period envisaged by the EPA would not be advisable."

“The bottom line is this. If Nigeria decides, quite wisely, not to sign the EPA, he country should lead ECOWAS in the search for technical fixes that can be used to implement and sustain the key elements of the ECOWAS CET in the context of a situation in which other ECOWAS countries decide to sign the EPA."

Secretary to th National Economic Council (NEC), Bassey Akpanyung said several impact assessment studies on the implication of the EPA for Nigeria suggest that it will experience significant erosion in tariff revenue if it implements import liberalisation of EPA.

“It was estimated that lost in revenue would average $478 million in 2008 and in the long run, fall to an average of $341 million by 2020."

“I wish to state that signing the EPA in its present form, would be costly to Nigeria with $1.3 trillion revenue losses from finished goods coming from EU while the negative effects EPA would have on local manufacturing range from shutdown of local industries and job losses due to unfair competition”
he warned.

Source : Frontiers News

Ademola Oyejide

is a professor of Economics, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.