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EU to stake €26b till 2035 on trade devt in Nigeria, others


Michel-ArrionSeeks country’s review of protectionist stance, EPA
In a move to aid the ratification of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by West African countries, especially by Nigeria and Gambia, the European Union (EU) has concluded plans to spend at least €6.5 billion every five years beginning, from 2015-2019, as well as during the transition period of 20 years till 2035.

Already, worried that Nigeria’s stance on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) may affect ratification of the trade treaty in the ECOWAS region, as well as terminate the temporary free access to the European Union being enjoyed by other ECOWAS member states, the EU has urged the Federal Government to review its protectionist policies in the interest of the region.
According to the EU, the EPA has no hidden agenda; rather the benefits of the trade deal should be properly appraised by stakeholders.

Preparatory to the 4th EU-Nigeria business forum tagged “Unlocking opportunities for diversification”, EU Ambassador/Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion, noted that the EU has no offensive agenda for Nigeria and other countries in the region, adding that other west African countries will appreciate Nigeria’s contribution to the west African regional cohesion as they need the EPA to retain their EU access after October 2016.

He said EU will be making strong commitments in terms of financial development assistance, saying that the EU and its member states have all agreed to provide a minimum of €6.5 billion of trade development assistance every five years till 2035.
“Every five years, we are committed to give grants, development assistance. EU and the 28 member states have agreed to give a minimum of €6.5 billion for every five years. In the last five years it was €8.5 billion. We are very comfortable to provide this development assistance.
‎ “Nigeria is maintaining import bans against ECOWAS. You can do this outside ECOWAS but not within. You are part of the same community and bound by some rules relating to free movement of goods and people. We have no offensive agenda for Nigeria because we believe that Nigeria and ECOWAS are very interesting places where European or other non European businesses could invest because there is enough room for investment,” he said.

He assured that the EU will not invade the West African market with products that could compete with domestic products of what Nigeria and other countries in the region would be producing, pointing out that the EU has removed all its export subsidies to the West African market.

He said the forum scheduled to hold from 5th to 7th in November in Lagos, 2015, will bring about business leaders and policy makers from the European Union and Nigeria to discuss business opportunities and impediments to investments.
“The forum will aim to increase domestic and foreign investments particularly in agribusiness, in line with Nigeria government’s diversification efforts,” he added.

According to him since 2012, the EU-Nigeria business forum, a collaborative effort of the European Union and its member states in
Nigeria, has served as a platform for private sector participants to gather essential market information, identify business opportunities and connect with key players.

He added that the volume of trade between Nigeria and EU stood at €36.4 in 2013, accounting for 29.6 per cent of Nigeria’s total trade the same year, pointing out that the forum will deepen understanding of the role that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) can play in supporting the diversification of Nigeria’s economy, strengthen EU-Nigeria business relations through identification of opportunities in agribusiness and forging partnerships.

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