The Federal Government has stated that it would continue to encourage deliberations within the country with regards to its stance on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), between ECOWAS and the European Union.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, who disclosed this at the just concluded Dakar meeting of West African leaders, where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that there are ongoing negotiations with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some other key economic players about the trade treaty.
Osinbajo noted “We understand some of the terms of this agreement are capable of restricting their (manufacturers) trading activities and we would not want this to happen. It is equally important that as we make the decision, we take into consideration the concerns of these critical stakeholders and tread cautiously.”
He pointed out at the meeting which ended late on Saturday that Nigeria is yet to fully endorse the agreement because of these concerns, adding that the federal government will continue to engage in wide consultations with relevant stakeholders before coming to a conclusion on the Economic Partnership Agreement.
The EPA is a free trade deal that had been initialled by EU and ECOWAS negotiators covering trade in goods and development cooperation.
The Vice President reiterated the country’s constant commitment and obligations to the regional body having recently paid its dues, stressing that it is coming against the background of worries that some of the members of the body are not up-to-date in their financial obligations, with a call raised at the Dakar summit for such nations to do so.
“We are also very committed to ECOWAS. As the largest economy in the region, we have constantly fulfilled our obligations and we intend to continue to do this,” the Vice President declared.