The Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS has stated that the EU is interested in the economic and social stability of its African partners. He said the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is one instrument for the Union and ECOWAS moving into that direction.
“We have come to a situation that is very clear in terms of our values and interests and we need to see Africa grow, provide employment to its youth and provide opportunity to those people,“ he said.
Richard Young made these remarks at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, during the regional media workshop on International Trade Agreements. Young said a wealthy and prosperous West Africa reflects EU values and interests. “EU’s interest is ECOWAS interest and there interest is faced with some problems.”
The EU diplomat said in order to ensure a prosperous West Africa, there are many things that needs to be done, noting that one element of that is the way in which they approach trade. Young said a key element of the Economic Partnership Agreement at first is to give unrestricted access to West African goods to the European market but at the same time, it restricts European markets to the West African market.
“And that restriction of access to the West African market is applicable to 25 percent to all goods and last forever and for the other goods that restriction will be reduced over the period of five to twenty years,” Young added.
“No country can be competitive based on self-sufficiency; therefore, every country in order for it to sustain long term growth, it needs to integrate into the world economy. Access to greater markets provides an opportunity to have economies at scales and specialisation and it provides it with an opportunity to export and earn resources.”
He added that the European Union since the 1970s have been providing non-reciprocal trade agreements with Africa, which means Africa has been able to export duty free into Europe. “EU promote its values including promoting the development of poorer countries.”
Young said despite the history of the European Union as a progressive force in the world, it would like to see itself using trade policy to promote the development of poorer countries. “These are the values that affects us, but there is also the interest and one of the ways we become aware both in Africa and in Europe about our interest is that, we have all seen people been rescued at sea.”
The EU diplomat said migrants are seen crossing into Europe from Africa across the Mediterranean risking their lives, describing it as a challenge to both African societies and leaders.
by Omar Wally