By Femi Adekoya
Despite commitments by present and past administrations on economic diversification, the European Union (EU) has stated that Nigeria is still a long way from diversifying its exports, as only about fiveof Nigerian exports are non-oil exports.
Reiterating the need for the country to consider West Africa-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to diversify its export, the EU stated that Union is the main non-oil export destination of Nigerian goods, as such, Nigerian manufacturers should be interested in increasing non-oil exports to the EU.
Trade Counsellor, Head of the Trade Economic Section, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Filippo Amato, while speaking at a forum organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), stated that the EU remains Nigeria’s most important trading partner in exports and imports, representing about 40% of Nigeria’s total external trade, both in 2017 and 2018.
He noted that the total volume of trade between Nigeria and the EU has been increasing over the years: about €20 billion in 2016, €26 billion in 2017, and €34.4 billion in 2018.
“Trade figures show that Nigeria imports from the EU mostly input products that are used by the local industry for producing final consumer goods. There is practically no or very little competition between EU exported goods and locally produced goods.
“EU exports to Nigeria are complementary not competing with locally produced goods. This means not only that local manufacturers should not fear competition from EU companies, but also that there is scope for cooperation and synergy between EU companies and Nigerian manufacturers.
“It also means that local manufacturers should be interested in reducing the costs of input and machinery imported from the EU, for instance by lowering import duties on such products, a solution that a trade agreement, like the West Africa-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), could provide”, he added.
Citing its interventions in the Nigerian real sector, Amato explained that the EU has helped the government in improving the climate for businesses at national and regional levels, through financial commitments and policy frameworks.
It would be recalled that manufacturers had kicked against the ratification of the EPA stating that though the 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.
According to MAN, 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, the association had 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.”