Ambassador Michel Arrion, the outgoing Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, on Thursday enjoined Nigeria to reconsider her reluctance in signing the Economic Partnership Agreements.
Arrion gave the advice at the Nigerian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce and the Nigerian-Belgian Commercial and Documentation Centre’s June Breakfast Meeting in Lagos.
The theme of the meeting was: “Unlocking Nigerian SME Potential to the EU Market”.
The EU Representative said that it was imperative to reconsider the benefits of the EPA, and join other countries currently taking advantage of the opportunities in the agreement.
Arrion said: “We still want Nigeria to revisit her position of signing the Economic Partnership Agreements. Nigeria need not fear any negative impact of the EPA.
“We have realised that some Nigerians in authority positions and businesses
are just blocking the process to signing the EPA.
“This is not to say that we are putting pressure on Nigeria to sign the EPA. We know that the EPA would reduce what Nigeria needs to be industrialised.”
Arrion also said that it was untrue that the EU banned Nigerian beans from entering its states because Nigeria had not signed the EPA.
He said that it was also imperative for Nigeria to know that the EPA was meant to foster the integration of the ACP States into the world economy.
Arrion added that such smooth and gradual integration would be with due regard for Nigeria’s political choices and development priorities.
He also said that for more Nigerian agricultural produce to gain acceptance in EU states, they must be standardised for the consumption of the Nigerian Diaspora in Europe and the Europeans.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Adepeju Adebajo, in a presentation on “Connecting Nigerian Farmers to the EU Market,’’ said that some Nigerian SMEs were already exporting to the EU.
According to her, some Nigerians are currently exporting ewedu and ugu vegetables, garri, and other agricultural produce to some European countries.
Adebajo said that Nigeria’s current economic recession should be an
opportunity for Nigerian SMEs to actively engage themselves in
He said: “We must know that agriculture is extremely important for food security, employment generation, foreign exchange reserve and diversification.
“The economic recession that Nigeria has found herself in, is a huge opportunity for our SMEs to participate in harnessing the opportunities in our agriculture sector.”
The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) is a scheme to create a free trade area
between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.
They are a response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating
preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are incompatible with WTO rules.
The EPAs date back to the signing of the Cotonou Agreement. The EPAs with the different regions are at different states of play.
In 2016, EPAs with the three African Regional Economic Communities (East African Community, the Economic Community of West African States and the Southern African Development Community), were to be signed but faced challenges.
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) are a group of 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific that was created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975.
The group’s main objectives are sustainable development and poverty reduction within its member states, as well as their greater integration into the global economy.
All of the member states, except Cuba, are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union.