Manufacturers Kick Against Implementation Of EPA In Nigeria

MANUFACTURERS have condemned the planned implementation of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Nigeria, saying the country is still not mature for its adoption.

The President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Frank Udemba Jacobs said in Abuja, last week, at the conference on EPA, that Nigeria still lacks the capacity to produce and export industrial goods.

He described the Economic Partnership Agreement as a design to create free trade between the European Union (EU) and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, adding that duties on goods imported and exported between the parties are reduced and eventually removed because of the agreement.

In order to clarify the position of the Nigerian manufacturers on the issue, he said: “Nigeria is mainly a commodity goods producer country, it has very limited capability to produce and export industrial goods. Most of the industries in the country are undeveloped and are plagued by lack of supportive infrastructure. The production plans of industry players are constantly distorted by the interplay of macroeconomic variables such as inflation, exchange rate and interest rate variations.”

To the manufacturers, although, EPA may appear to be a good course in the document proposal, it may be catastrophic if implemented as it will stifle the slowly recovering manufacturing sector in the country.

He said the implementation could worsen the unemployment situation and the standard of living of the people.

Giving reasons for MAN’s position on EPA adoption in Nigeria, Jacobs said: “EPA will confine the Nigerian economy to a mere market expansion of the European Union since we cannot operate with Europe on all grounds. It is on these grounds that we believe that Nigeria does not need EPA now until it has been adequately industrialised and is able to trade industrial goods competitively.”

He said, although Nigerian manufacturers have nothing against free trade, it could be better done in a situation of equal economic development as any attempt to coerce the country into a free trade arrangement would only succeed in killing the fledging manufacturing sector.

According to the manufacturers, the industrialisation goal of government, through the recently launched Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) would be a mirage, if EPA policy is adopted in Nigeria. Besides, they said it would increase social unrest and insecurity, due to surge in unemployment.

Meanwhile, agency reports last week said Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) have promised to support the re-introduction of Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) by the Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC) on the condition that it would not attract charges to shippers.

According to Ships and Ports, the two bodies made the pledge when a team of NSC officials led by its Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello visited MAN and NACCIMA offices in Ikeja Lagos.

While receiving the NSC team at MAN, the President, Frank Jacobs assured that his association would support the advance cargo information system if it will not add to the cost of doing business at the port.

“We are satisfied with all the explanations that they (NSC) have given to us, but we think that the technical members of all the stakeholders should get together and further discuss it.

“But I think it is something that will help us at the end so we are going to support it. We are hoping that it will not attract any cost to the manufacturers in view of the fact that we want to make sure that cost of doing business is reduced, he said.

He explained that MAN opposed the former CTN under the management of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) because of the high cost it imposed on shippers, as according to him, shippers were made to pay 150 Euros per container.

Deputy National President of NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, said; “the Shipper Council have our 100 percent supports on the reintroduction of CTN because this will help both the importer and the exporter and enhance revenue of the government. Even cost of demurrage will be lessened. We are in support of anything that will move shippers forward,” she said.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello however assured them that the Cargo Tracking Note would be at no cost to shippers, adding that its introduction would facilitate trade and ease clearance of goods at the port .

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