The European Union (EU) on Thursday appealed to the Federal Government to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between it and West Africa to enhance economic development.
This is contained in a statement by Mr Michel Arrion, EU Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Arrion said that EU had signed the agreement with ECOWAS while some countries ratified it.
He said that EPA was good for Nigeria and urged the country to follow the steps of other ECOWAS countries by ratifying it.
He said EPA would form part of the discussion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to address the European Parliament at the French city of Strasbourg in February.
According to him, EPA establishes a partnership based on common objectives and asymmetrical obligations in West Africa’s favour.
“All West Africa exports will gradually reduce duties on 75 per cent of EU imports over a long transition period of 20 years.
“The EPA is aligned with EU development assistance to support implementation – including at least 6.5 billion euros from 2015-2019.
“This support will continue beyond 2019, during the whole transition of 20 years till 2035.
“There are many safeguards to support domestic production, infant industry and food security and EU will not use subsidies on agriculture exports to West Africa.’’
He said that EPA would enhance cooperation on issues such as standards, trade in services, agriculture, fisheries, investment, business, environment and custom cooperation.
In addition, he said joint monitoring institutions would be established, including an EPA Council, an Implementation Committee, a Parliamentary Committee and a Civil Society Forum.
On the benefits of EPA, Arrion said a September 2014 World Bank Study showed overall positive effects on Nigerian consumers and producers, with very limited fiscal losses.
He said that the vast majority of manufacturing firms actually stood to gain from the deal, noting that 95 per cent of Nigerian firms would benefit from lower input prices under the EPA.
Arrion, however, said that the EPA would remove all EU tariffs on Nigerian exports, protect Nigeria’s domestic industries and sensitive agricultural and other consumer products.
“It will enhance progressive lifting of 75 per cent tariff lines on imports from EU over a period of 20 years will not damage Nigerian firms.
“Nigeria’s loss of tariff revenue (fiscal losses) under the EPA will be minimal and gradual; its impact can easily be mitigated.
“EPA will provide for enhanced cooperation in agriculture and fisheries; it will contribute to regional integration and it will not harm development,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives had on Jan. 27 cautioned the Federal Government on EPA and EU, saying it would weaken Nigeria’s economy.
The house said the recent push by EU to further expand the frontiers of its economic relations with Nigeria through the implementation of EPA was being resisted by real sector operators of the country’s economy.