Nigeria will continue consultations within the country regarding its stance on the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, between ECOWAS and the European Union, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said at the just concluded Dakar meeting of West African leaders.
According to him “there are ongoing negotiations on it. We are discussing with the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some other key economic players about it.”
In addition, the VP noted that “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.”
Prof. Osinbajo explained that in the consultation process “it is equally important that as we make the decision, we take into consideration the concerns of these critical stakeholders and tread cautiously.”
He noted at the meeting which ended later on Saturday that Nigeria is yet to fully endorse the agreement because of these concerns.
He stated that for now the federal government will continue to engage in wide consultations with relevant stakeholders before coming to a conclusion on the Economic Partnership Agreement.
While a number of West African nations have endorsed the deal, a few including Nigeria have raised issues regarding the implications of the deal, being championed by the European Union.
The EPA is a free trade deal that had been initialled by EU and ECOWAS negotiators covering trade in goods and development cooperation.
Speaking at the end of the 49th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which took place in Dakar, Senegal this weekend where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Osinbajo stated that Nigeria cannot be committed to such an agreement without wide consultations.
Meanwhile, the Vice President also restated Nigeria’s constant commitment and obligations to the regional body having recently paid its dues. This 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.
Indeed Nigeria was openly commended at the summit for fulfilling its obligations by paying the community levies.
“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.
Presidents, Prime Ministers and very top officials from the 16 ECOWAS members gathered in Dakar over the weekend to deliberate on important issues. The summit also witnessed the swearing-in of the new ECOWAS commission President, Marcel A. de Souza.
The meeting also featured commendations from ECOWAS leaders to the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the nation on the progress recorded by the country against terrorists.
At the end of the summit, Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was chosen as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government taking over from her Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall.