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Nigeria: European Union rejects request for trade deal

Summary & Comment: Nigeria’s refusal to accept terms of an Economic Partnership Agreement that would have made the country worse off seems to have contributed to the European Union’s decision to reject Nigeria’s application to be granted Enhanced Generalized System of Preferences status. Poverty stricken Cote d’Ivoire signed the EPA last month to its detriment according to analysts. JM

Author: Justus Nduwugwe, Abuja Date Written: 23 December 2008
Primary Category: Western Region Document Origin: Leadership
Secondary Category: Economic Justice Source URL:
Key Words: Nigeria, economic justice, EU-ACP EPA negotiations, GSP+ status,

African Charter Article #1: The African Union countries shall recognize all these rights, duties and freedoms and give effect to them. (Click for full text...)

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European Union rejects Nigeria’s request for trade deal

European Union Commission (EC) has rejected Nigeria's application to be granted the enhanced Generalised System of Preferences otherwise known as the GSP+ status, under the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance for the period covering 2009-2011. In its decision already sent to the government, the Commission said that Nigeria does not meet the requirements for the status because of its refusal to ratify the Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The decision further places Nigeria in a precarious position on the ongoing EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements negotiations, as the country is suffering from the burden of not initialling the interim EPA.

Already, this has resulted into a loss of market to the tune of about 14 per cent with such sectors as cocoa being worst hit with an estimated loss of about $400,000 per month in duty liabilities since 1st January 2008. Other sectors like fishery, agriculture, etc, feel the impact in varying degrees. These were made known on Monday in a press statement issued by the President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Barrister Ken Ukaoha, in Abuja.

The statement recalled that Nigeria had on the 30th of October formally submitted an application to EU, following a call for applications by the Commission. The application, it observed, was a result of several analysis carried out by the Technical and Advisory Committees set up by the government of Nigeria, which showed that Nigeria would be worse off by logging into the EPA, but that impacts could be ameliorated if a GSP+ status was granted.

NANTS had earlier noted the chances of the EU granting Nigeria the status and concluded that based on expert legal opinion flowing from the Commission's precedent in granting the status, Nigeria was qualified. NANTS also called on the EU as a show of goodwill especially in the context of the EPA negotiation and in the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement, to grant Nigeria the GSP+ status, especially in consideration of the obvious potential losses which the EPA poses on Nigeria. NANTS had also held that the refusal of the GSP+ status to Nigeria would create great suspicion on the commitment of the EC to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the ability to assist Nigeria achieve them.

The group further recalled that this is the second time the EU is refusing Nigeria's application to the GSP+ status, for which the country is absolutely qualified. "It should be noted that precisely on November 27, 2007, Nigeria had applied to the EU for the GSP+, in realisation of the fact that ECOWAS (the regional body under which Nigeria is negotiating), was not ready for signing the dotted lines, having a number of outstanding tasks yet unattended to in the negotiations", it added. According to the statement, the GSP+ is designed as derogation from the GSP and the aim is to grant better 'incentives' to developing countries that have shown a good record in 'sustainable development and good governance'.

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