‘Nige­ria yet to sign EU-W/Africa pact’

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - From Hal­ima Musa, Kano

The Min­is­ter of State for In­dus­try, Trade and In­vest­ment, Ha­jiya A’isha Abubakar, said that Nige­ria is mak­ing con­sul­ta­tions be­fore sign­ing the EU-West Africa Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment (EPA).

Ha­jiya Aisha who spoke dur­ing a one-day sen­si­ti­sa­tion sem­i­nar on EPA or­gan­ised by the Euro­pean Union (EU) and the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS) in Kano, said: “Nige­ria and Gam­bia with­held their sig­na­to­ries to the agree­ment due to some iden­ti­fied is­sues of na­tional im­por­tance that needed to be ad­dressed.”

The min­is­ter said that the de­lay in sign­ing of EPA by Nige­ria was not an at­tempt to un­der­mine the ef­forts of the ECOWAS com­mis­sion and the EU.

“We need some time to con­sult fur­ther with the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers and agree on the next step, while our gath­er­ing to­day is a step for­ward to­wards fi­nal­is­ing on Nige­ria’s po­si­tion,” she said.

Speak­ing at the event, Mr Michel Ar­rion, the Head of EU del­e­ga­tion in Nige­ria and ECOWAS, ex­pressed worry over the de­lay in sign­ing the EPA by Nige­ria, say­ing: “Nige­rian gov­ern­ment seems to have some reser­va­tion over the sign­ing of the agree­ment.

“We are here to dis­pel this mis­con­cep­tion. We have no any hid­den neg­a­tive agenda. It is purely an eco­nomic agree­ment aimed at pro­mot­ing re­gional trades and in­vest­ments.

Also in his re­marks, the Com­mis­sioner for In­dus­try and Pri­vate Sec­tor Promotion of the ECOWAS Com­mis­sion, Mr Kalilou Traore, said that 20 coun­tries have signed the EPA with the ex­cep­tion of Nige­ria and Gam­bia.

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