OPS explains non-support for Morocco’s application to ECOWAS
Members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), have said the pre-existing Free Trade Agreements (FTA), between Morocco and the European Union (EU), and a host of other issues are the reasons for the lack of support for the country’s application to join the ECOWAS region.
According to the OPS, admitting Morocco to ECOWAS while the country still has a pending trade issue with the EU due to the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), pose a threat to the national and regional economy, particularly the growth and development of local manufacturing in Nigeria.OPS members comprise the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA); Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI); and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME).
The group in a statement made available to journalists, maintained that signing the EPA in its present form will adversely affect the manufacturing sector, dispel the industrialisation headways already made, and worsen the unemployment and poverty levels in Nigeria.“Morocco is a neighbouring and associated country of the European Union. The relations between the two are situated in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Union for the Mediterranean. The country is recognised as an advanced status among the ENP countries, opening up to high levels of political cooperation.
“Morocco joining ECOWAS is a direct attempt of reducing the influence and strength of Nigeria, as a strategic Political and Economic force in ECOWAS. Based on trend analysis, ECOWAS has little trade benefit expectations from Morocco. The historical trade pattern relations of Morocco revealed no notable trading ties with ECOWAS states; going by her current demand pattern, Morocco trades with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Russia, Algeria and EU. All of these imply that over the years Morocco had little or no trade dealings with ECOWAS states.
“Admitting Morocco has dire security consequences on the region considering the fact that ISIS is gaining ground in Morocco. The security concern as regards the activities of ISIS in the Maghreb region, and the likely effect this could have on our already challenged economy through the activities of Boko Haram is an issue of concern.
“Morocco’s memberships of numerous economic blocs pose a serious loyalty concern. Morocco is a member of the Union for the Mediterranean, which comprises 28 countries from European Union. Granting this same country, the membership of ECOWAS affords 28 countries from European Union free access into the regional market thereby flooding the market with EU products. This is a decoy that will weakening the stance of Nigeria on the ECOWAS-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), inhibit Nigerian diversification and stifle the growth of the manufacturing sector through exploitation of Nigerian and ECOWAS market,” the OPS maintained.
The members however recommended that Nigeria commenced the process of aligning her foreign and trade policies in line with national interests and aspirations as well as encourage Morocco to key-in to the on-going development process of the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) for Africa, which is still at the formation stage.
“We hereby call on the Nigerian Government, to, as a matter of National interest and utmost urgency, deploy necessary diplomatic machinery to halt this seemingly unacceptable proposed enlistment of Morocco into the membership of ECOWAS regional bloc. This will enable Nigeria have a formidable position on or before the first quarter 2018, when the final verdict on the application of Morocco will be concluded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria no doubt has maintained cordial bilateral relations with Morocco, which in our opinion should be strengthened,” a statement signed by MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, read in part.
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