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ECOWAS assures business of interests' protection

20 March 2014, 08:35Augustine Osayande

Abuja - The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, has assured the region’s private sector that necessary measures have been put in place to protect their interests under the impending Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being negotiated with the European Union.

The negotiations aim to create a free trade area of the two regions.

Ouedraogo gave the assurance during one-day national Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Dialogue Forum with representatives of the Nigerian private sector in Abuja.

Ouedraogo explained that the region had demonstrated a high level of inclusiveness during the ten-year negotiations to ensure a balanced agreement with a strong development component.

He assured them that the Common External Tariff (CET) and the Market Access Offer include provisions that Member States could apply to protect their interests in order to address private sector concerns about dumping and the protection of their industries.

“I am convinced that the Agreement reached with the European Union is a good agreement. West Africa States are expected to gradually liberalise its market over a period of 20 years, by eliminating duties on 75 percent of European products including raw materials and inputs in the manufacturing sector that will make the region’s markets competitive while 25 percent of West Africa’s sensitive market will never be liberalized,” he said.

He explained that the sensitization of the Nigerian private sector became imperative given the potential impact an impasse in the negotiations will have on the country.   

Ouedraogo therefore urged the forum to exhibit the traditional Nigerian leadership role in fostering intra community cooperation while discussing the agreement which is intended to gradually integrate our economies into the global trading system.

Local Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Olusegun Aganga, called on participants to put emotions aside and embrace what was best for the region while reiterating President Goodluck Jonathan’s sincere determination to assist ECOWAS in the realization of its goals.

He said that the economic analysis by countries was vital because of the need to examine the overall impact of the deal in order to arrive at decisions that will strengthen rather than undermine the region’s economy.

The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigerian, Kola Jamodu, expressed concern at the potential impact of the agreement on the country’s economy when the country was yet to resolve its infrastructural deficit.

– CAJ News

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