Tariffs on non-oil exports from Nigeria to the European Union (EU) to remain until the country signs the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The EPA between the EU and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) basically creates free trade zones between member-states of the two regions, allowing the entry of a percentage of imports from Europe into West Africa and vice versa, free of tariffs.
Indeed, the signing of the interim EPA with the EU by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire may have put a strain on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), with Nigeria being a target for the free movement of goods for many imports moving through the ECOWAS corridor.
But the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Jacobs, stated that the EU could impose sanctions on exports from the country.
According to Jacobs, non-oil exports to the EU are minimal with raw materials dominating the exports, hence the need for the government to protect growing industries and encourage value-addition.
On its part, the EU alleged that the Federal Government was protecting firms that were already about 50 years old, adding that such firms were no longer infant industries but ones whose interests could be protected using the safeguard measures created under the EPA.
Director, International and Bilateral Relations, EU, John Clarke said: “The world will not cease to exist with or without the EPA. Nigeria did not need the EPA six years ago as the oil and gas sector was booming.
However, Nigeria has a need for the EPA now. Nigeria will face World Trade Organisation (WTO) level tariffs which are higher while neighbouring countries will have comparative advantage over Nigeria”.
In another interview with The Guardian, EU Ambassador/Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion, Nigeria missed the deadline and that means that five per cent of exports from Nigeria remain subjected to duty when entering Europe.
According to him, 95 per cent of Nigeria’s exports are oil-and gas-dependent and they don’t attract import duty.