Nigeria may lose up to 1.3 trillion dollars in revenues if it signs the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) has warned.
EPA is a free trade deal between Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and European Union.
The President of MAN, Mr Frank Jacobs, said in a statement released in Lagos on Monday, “Nigeria should at this time look at ways we can come out of the economic recession by generating more foreign exchange from exports instead of signing such agreement”.
NAN reports that the Committee of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS endorsed EPA in July 2014 and opened it for signature by member states.
But in spite of being beneficiary to the letters of EPA, including a 6.5 billion pledge by the EU to support infrastructure development in the ECOWAS region in a 2015 to 2020 programme, Nigeria is one of three states yet to sign the document.
Other ECOWAS states yet to sign the deal are Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Nigeria fears that the deal may undermine its economic interest considering that it involves two regions with unequal economic strengths.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President of Nigeria, in June during the 49th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS in Dakar, said that the government would consult key players, such as MAN, before deciding on the agreement.
“We totally oppose signing if the agreement because it will stifle the Nigerian market and hinder the government’s effort at industrialisation with finished items from European countries, Jacob said.
“As an estimate, Nigeria can lose up to 1.3 trillion dollars if the partnership is signed.
“The nation currently lacks the technology to produce finished goods with its commodities where it has comparative advantage, signing the EPA will stifle all these efforts.
The markets, he said, would be further choked with products that will cause undue competition to the existing locally manufactured products, and we currently lack the capacity to flood the European market with our own products.
He further said that the EPA would stifle the informal trading sector which included the major population.
Jacobs said that all manufacturers were opposed to Nigeria signing EPA because the country generally lacked capacity to compete with Europe.