EU, SON partner to address non-tariff barriers to trade
THE European Union (EU) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have unveiled initiatives to address non-tariff barriers affecting trade relations between Nigeria and EU countries.
Under the initiative, the SON will partner with EU to build capacities for made-in-Nigeria goods, through a micro-quality intervention programme focused on specific areas such as agricultural produce, chemical testing, electronics and electrical, while identifying gaps in the processes of accreditation of laboratories as part of measures to make Nigerian goods competitive and acceptable globally.
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), while reiterating the Federal Government’s position on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), noted that it is necessary to address challenges with non-tariff barriers before negotiating new deal with the EU.
Director-General, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu maintained that the EPA agreement would hinder local production and thereby dash the hope of Nigeria’s quest for economic diversification.
Odumodu, explained that Nigeria cannot go into an agreement that would see the nation open its border to foreign products, adding that there has to be a level playing field for Nigeria to benefit from such trade agreement.
Odumodu during the inception meeting of SON with key experts for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-EU Programme on capacity building and training on standardisation tagged “Fostering standardisation values and capacity growth for made-in-Nigeria products, said: “SON is a member of this government; so SON is a pro-government and government’s position on this matter is very clear.
“We are not yet at a point where we can sign the EPA. What we are doing today is building us to a level where we can be in a position to consider that agreement but as at today, it is not feasible because you do not put people in different levels and expect them to sign an agreement that would affect their local production. It will not be a level playing field and competition will be one sided to the detriment of Nigeria.
“We are going to be looking at areas where Nigeria needs assistance in terms of agricultural produce and those are areas where we are going to be focused on and I am sure in the next quarter, all of you will come for the launching of our new laboratory in Ogba. I want to thank the European Union for many of the activities they have been involved with in creating a competitiveness and access programme for Nigeria in the international community.
“In terms of testing, we will test products going out of the country, products coming in and the products that are being consumed in Nigeria. What we have found out is that with the experience we had during the EU’s rejection of our beans, the need for us to focus on domestic consumption. We must also protect our own people. The foreign countries are all setting targets to protect their consumers and we must also go that way. We will be going to the market to take samples for testing and we will be doing this as often as possible so that we can keep people away from bad products that can harm them,” he added.
He commended the federal government’s budget from 2016 going forward, saying that it is paying a critical look at diversifying the nation’s economy.