ANTIGUA and Barbuda diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders will be the keynote speaker in Abuja, Nigeria at a conference today and tomorrow to critically appraise the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU).
As a Senior Fellow at London University over the last few years, Sir Ronald has written extensively on the EPA between the EU and the Caribbean countries that constitute CARIFORUM. Previously, he was Antigua and Barbuda’s chief negotiator at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Ambassador to the former European Economic Community.
His publications indicate concern about the EPA with the EU over the tardiness in delivering to CARIFORM countries promised access to EU markets as well as the inadequacy of financial support to facilitate the adjustment of Caribbean countries to the terms of the EPA.
The EPA is a reciprocal trade agreement promoted by the EU to create Free Trade Areas between the EU collectively and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States individually through six regional economic communities into which the ACP was divided after years of joint negotiations with the EU.
Even though the ECOWAS Commission concluded negotiations with the EU Commission in July 2014 – a date mandated by the EU – Nigeria expressed reservations over the perceived economic implications to its economy.
The conference organiser, Kayode Soyinka, said the meeting it is expected to put the EPA on the front burner of national discourse in Nigeria and the west African sub-region. Among the other speakers at the Conference from Nigeria are Mr.RasheedOlaoluwa, Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Dr. S.U. Jacobs, president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Ken Ukaoha, president of the National Association of Nigerian Traders and Professor AdemolaOyejide, an Emeritus professor of economics from the University of Ibadan.