Today | 26 September 2016
NACCIMA opposes signing of West Africa-EU agreement
by Mustafa Balogun
Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), has urged the Federal Government to refrain from signing the West Africa-EU Economic Partnership Agreement until the country’s infrastructure and productive capacity has improved such that exports would benefit from the agreement and output from the sensitive sectors would be able to compete with import from EU.
Giving this hint in a statement over the weekend in Lagos, the President of the association, Dr. Edem Bassey, cautioned government not to sign the agreement, but rather confront headlong the current economic crisis and find a way to pull out of economic recession through appropriate policy measures.
He said that to return Nigeria to the path of economic growth, the country needs to strengthen infrastructure and stimulate aggregate demand for its output. With the policy focus of Nigerian Government on the diversification from crude oil to other sectors of the economy, the Economic Partnership Agreement offers a ready market for Nigerian products that will be the output of the diversification agenda.
According to the association, this would not only undermine the ongoing industrial revolution as enunciated in the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, but portends catastrophic implication for employment generation, investment inflows and poverty alleviation in the country.
It would be recalled that since it was endorsed in July 2014 by the Committee of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS, key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy, including NACCIMA, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), have persistently opposed the signing of the EPA by Nigeria due to the conceived negative effects it would have on the economy of the country.
The President explained that there are even fewer commodities that can compete with foreign goods imported into the country even with the tariff restrictions. Tariff restrictions, even those as high as 35 percent do not guarantee the development of the local industry but will ensure that the imports are expensive where there are no alternatives, there would still be a steady stream of these imports and the local industry would not be able to compete.
The NACCIMA boss clarified further that the recent policy of resource-based industrialisation, which was adopted by the Federal Government and targeted at encouraging the compounded by government appending its signature or domesticating EPA.
“It became imperative that we reflect deeply on the trade liberalisation deal with the EU and its long-term impact on the continents efforts towards industrialisation and job creation.
“We need to leverage our abundant natural resources and large market to develop our industries.”
“We tarry a while to allow for the effects of “Brexit” on the Nigerian Economy in particular and global economy as a whole”.
He disclosed that despite the fact that the weakening of the Naira has made imports more expensive, poor infrastructure and high cost of production connotes that there will be few local alternatives that would qualify for exports to the EU.
He said that the EPA requires that within 6 months of conclusion, negotiations must begin to extend EPA from one that covers trade in goods into a treaty governing almost other aspect of economic activities and policy decision-making in West Africa.