No Negotiation With Nigeria On Economic Partnership Agreement – EU
The Head of Delegation to the European Union, Michel Arrion has said the EU is not negotiating with Nigeria on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
This is even as he revealed that Nigeria has refused to sign the EPA agreement which has already been signed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Head of Delegation stated this in his interaction at a seminar for members of the Abuja Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) which held in Abuja on Wednesday.
According to Mr Arrion ” We have an agreement with ECOWAS and the EPA is an economic partnership between the ECOWAS and EU.”
He states that “while ECOWAS had signed on behalf of its 50 member states Nigeria does not want to sign the EPA.
“So it is primarily a problem between ECOWAS and Nigeria,we are not negotiating with Nigeria we have closed the negotiations with ECOWAS. So if there is an issue in Nigeria over the EPA,they should try to sort this issues with the ECOWAS” he said.
Mr Arrion said he found it strange that Nigeria refused to sign the EPA in spite of its many benefits.
“I find it a bit strange that the strongest country with the most concern about what would become probably the most key economic agreement between Nigeria and the EU and very much regret that some who are contributing to the decisions of the EPA do not understand all the advantages that EPA would bring to Nigeria.”
He added that South Africa, Kenya among others, have signed and ratified the EPA, while Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Leadership recalls that all ECOWAS Heads of States committed to sign the EPA at its Summit of July, 2014 in Ghana, adding that as at December 2014 only the 28 EU member states and 13 of the 16 West African States actually signed,excluding Nigeria,Gambia and Mauritania.
The Diplomat stressed many benefits of the EPA to Nigeria,which he said included “removing all EU tariffs on Nigerian exports,protect Nigeria’s domestic industries and sensitive agricultural and other consumer products.”
He added that the progressive lifting of 75% tariff lines on imports from the EU over a period of 20 years will not damage Nigerian firms even as he stressed that Nigeria’s loss of tariff revenue under the EPA will be minimal and gradual.
Other benefits he added are that the EPA is aligned with EU development assistance to support implementation including at least 6.5 billion Euros from 2015-2019 during the transition and safeguards to support domestic production.
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