The real sector, represented by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has stoutly stood against the current efforts aimed at renewing the ECOWAS/EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by Nigeria, unless its terms are revisited.
In a desperate move to re-jig its down economy, Nigeria had, after a series of meetings with representatives of EU, expressed readiness to latch onto the €26bn grant, dangled before it and other ECOWAS-member countries, as part of the European Union (EU) backed EPA agreement.
Advising the government against the deal, MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, argued that the EPA would sink the real sector further down in its present condition, as the agreement has unfavourable terms for developing economies, most of which depend on finished goods from European countries than locally made ones.
He said MAN is opposed to the deal on the fear that it calls for lowering of tariff for goods coming into the country, which if allowed will lead to a quantum loss in estimate of $1.3 trillion for the five years the new agreement will subsist.
“Nigeria is mainly a commodity-goods producing country and has limited capability to reduce and export industrial goods to Europe if it trades same in an EPA free trade arrangement,” he stated.
However, some ECOWAS-member states, including Gambia, Ivory Coast and Senegal had already indicated interest to ratify the pact with the initial €6.5 billion to run from 2016 to 2019, while the balance will be in place till 2035.
According to officials of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Nigeria and other ECOWAS countries will achieve a faster economic growth by renewing the pact, which signs federal government officials had already been exposed to at one of their interactive meetings.
However, an investment expert, Michael Awosini, is of the opinion that the country should go for the grant in segments with an exit window in the agreement that can see it out as soon as the present recession is over.
“One of the solutions to recession is to pump more money into the economy, though with a check on inflation. Presently, there is no fund to executive the 2016 budget and nothing shows that the story will be different for next year’s budget, so cheap loans and grants can help”, Mr Jacobs said.
By Emma Eke…..
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