Again, MAN reiterates disapproval against economic agreement

Frank Jacobs, MAN President

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has again reiterated its hard stance against the ECOWAS-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) stating that government should address concerns bordering on market access before endorsing the agreement.

According to the manufacturers, addressing the EPA Market Access before the country endorses the agreement just as it did before the take-off of the ECOWAS CET, will ensure that Nigeria is not used as a dumping ground for finished products from the European Union.MAN’s objection is hinged on the implication of that the economy will remain a provider of raw materials and importer of finished products.

For this reason, the manufacturers had warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the EPA in its present form, taking into consideration the negative consequences the EPA would have on local manufacturing in particular and the economy in general, especially in the areas of job creation, loss of investment and revenue to government.

Nigeria, at various stages of the EPA negotiation process, had strongly opposed the agreement, and raised concerns that the Agreement would lead to de-industrialisation, as it is structured to limit the growth of manufacturing in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria.

“MAN’s concern is premised on the fact that from all parameters, West African states, including Nigeria, are not at the same level of economic development with any European country. Therefore, we are not in a position to conclude a reciprocal trade relationship as espoused in the trade agreement with EU.

“Based on the country’s national interest, the last and present administrations took a pragmatic decision not to join other West African states in endorsing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in its present form as it is not development oriented but designed to turn Nigeria into a dumping ground for European products. In appreciation of this, MAN and other stakeholders commended the Federal Government for acting in the national interest.

“MAN believes that given the reality of today’s world and the current stagflation in the economy, our nation can ill-afford to rely on exporting raw commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, solid minerals and unprocessed agricultural products. We need to break this circle and invoke deliberate efforts to industrialise our economy, which is consistent with Government policy on improving ease of doing business.

“In going forward, MAN recommends that our decision should continue to be dictated by our national industrial aspiration to develop a virile manufacturing sector. Our national interest dictates that we should not sign the ECOWAS-EU EPA which is structured to destroy our industries both in the short and long run,” MAN said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), has concluded plans to appraise the impact of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff and the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union on the structural transformation of economies and regional integration in West Africa.

UNECA explained that the main objective of the meeting is to share experiences and considerations on the effective and potential implications of the implementation of the two initiatives on structural transformation and the process of regional integration in West Africa.

According to the Director of ECA for West Africa, Dr. Dimitri Sanga, “trade among African countries is at a level which is very far from accelerating the integration of the continent as advocated by the African Union. The ECOWAS area is no exception as, with shares of intra-community trade ranging between 10% and 15%, the level is still too low to contribute to continental ambitions. This meeting will enable us to see if the entry into force of the ECOWAS-CET is likely to improve intra-community trade within the ECOWAS area.”

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