The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commissioner for Trade, Customs, Tourism, and Mines, Industry and Free Movement Alhaji Mohamed B Daramy has told the ECOBANK sponsored First ECOWAS Business Forum that “West Africa is not ready to sign the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement)”
Alhaji Daramy who delivered a paper on the “Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): Content, challenges and opportunities for the private sector including status of preparations and strategy for engaging the private sector in the negotiations” disclosed that the earlier agreements with the EU were all not legal because they violated World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
He disclosed that the EPA provides for “Every European good coming into Africa free”.
If ECOWAS countries sign the EPA he said “Nigeria alone stands to lose 791 million dollars in loss of revenue in trade with the EU, and the rest of ECOWAS will lose 4.1 billion dollars.”
As a result he said “ECOWAS is not ready to sign the EPA” adding “we want to see the development impact first.”
The President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Alhaji Bashir Borodo in his presentation called for the development of an Industrial master plan for West Africa.
He explained that EPA is asking the African countries to remove all custom duties on their products, while they will do the same in what the EPA calls “reciprocal market opening.”
“What goods will be exporting to them” he asked, adding that the Europeans will only flood our countries with their goods and kill all our industries.
If the ECOWAS countries agree to remove the customs duties from the European goods , Alhaji Borodo disclosed that according to their own studies the total cost in loss of revenue to Nigeria will be 682 million dollars, Ghana 150 million dollars Senegal 154 million dollars and Cape Verde 150 million dollars.
In return the EU is saying that African countries must raise their taxes locally to make up for the revenue loss and they have suggested raising the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15%.
He stated that they were not ready to sign the EPA
Also the African Industrial Association (AIA) Wednesday issued a statement at the Business forum expressing their dissatisfaction with the present negotiations taking place with the European Union over the signing of the EPA
“We African Industrialists, are opposed to the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) as they have been proposed by the European Union (EU)” the statement said.
“The conclusion of EPAs on the proposed EU basis in 2007 would certainly destroy the young and fragile African Industrial sector which is a key actor when it comes to the creation of wealth and jobs on the continent.”
“It is necessary to negotiate a credible free trade agreement based on a win/win strategy” the statement went on noting that “there is a need to support as a priority, regional integration and investments, especially private investments.”
The Industrialists maintained “We want the future partnership between Africa and the EU to contribute to the development of the strong potential of the emerging African Industry through a special and differential treatment.”
The statement urged “African and European decision makers to listen to the voice of the African Industrialists who want to play an active part in the definition of an agreement with the EU which will offer real development prospects to Africa”
The existing economic agreement with the EU will expire in December and if there is no agreement there will be preferential trade which will involve certain goods which have not yet been designated.