EPA INITIATIVE: THE COVENANT UNIVERSITY POSITION

EPA INITIATIVE: THE COVENANT UNIVERSITY POSITION

 
The Chancellor, Dr. David O. Oyedepo

The Chancellor, Dr. David O. Oyedepo

At a one- day parley held to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the founding of Covenant University (Founders Day), a roundtable workshop was held on the 17th October 2007 on the EPA, (Economic Partnership Agreements) between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countriescountries

Preamble
At a one- day parley held to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the founding of Covenant University (Founders Day), a roundtable workshop was held on the 17th October 2007 on the EPA, (Economic Partnership Agreements) between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countriescountries.

Disscussants
The panel consist of the following:
Professor Mathew Ola-Rotimi. Ajayi
Professor Olusola Ojo
Professor Joshua A. T. Ojo
Dr. J. Aremu

Observations:

Critical observations made by the presenters included the following:
Within the historical context of Lome convention and the Cotonou agreements, trade relations between the two blocs had always been loop-sided in favour of Europe.

Inequitable trade negotiation between the European Union and ACP is further reinforced by the fact that while Europe had attained a higher level of integration (custom common market), most African integration efforts are still at the level of free trade. Hence negotiations are bound to be inequitable.

The ACP countries generally have weak economic productive base. There is therefore the need to increase the productive base of ACP countries so that they can go into any meaningful negotiation with Europe

Due to this weak productive base there is a low intra-regional trade within the ACP bloc trade
while Europe consistently puts in place protective measure to safeguard its economy, ACP countries are constantly being pesterded to open up their economies for foreign goods and services

With globalization, ACP countries cannot afford to pursue a policy of isolationism in the international system. But there is the need to streghtened efforts at regional integration

Policy Options
The policy options open to ACP bloc and particularly Nigeria and other African countries are as follows:
Unilaterally pursue the EPA agenda. This option has major pitfalls
Multilaterally sign the agreement as a bloc
Isolate aspects of the agreement that are acceptable and sign them
Sign the agreement but with a proviso that negotiations are still on-going
Extend the time the agreement will be signed In all, whatever agreement is signed must reinforce the interests of ACP countries.

Staff and Students at the Occasion

Position of Covenant University
The EU is mounting pressure for the negotiations to be concluded by December 31st 2007. Although time is running out, there are still opportunities for the ACP to develop real alternatives to an EPA. This is especially important given the need for them to maintain common positions in the wake of the suspension of Doha negotiations in the WTO. It is already clear that an EPAs will have wide ranging impacts on ACP businesses, natural resources, social well-being and cultures. However, there has been no comprehensive research to analyze what impacts are likely to be, particularly for ECOWAS countries, and in particular on Nigeria. The information that is currently available has so far been restricted to a few trade negotiators and trade

Ministers while the Nigerian academic community is relatively not involved in the negotiation process. There has also been little opportunity for input from other government departments, parliaments, civil society or small business. This is why Covenant University is interested in EPA issues.

Covenant University is positioned to lead academic discussions at preventing the signing of any agreement that will return the economy back to path of servitude. The stand of the university is that a 'no agreement position is far better than any that is detrimental to the sustainable development of the economy' The University is out to lead the other institutions in the country at addressing the impact of the EPA on the various aspects of our national economy; more importantly as EU has recently refused to shift ground with respect to the timing, gradual phasing of EPA or permission of alternatives.

Consequently, the university believe that there is need to look for a "plan B" to serve as buffer stock policies in the areas where our national policies will be affected negatively or produced policy backlash on the various economic initiatives and reforms of this administration.

The University also called on government to stall the signing of the agreement in December by requesting for an extension of time before the agreement will be signed while effort is made in that period to strengthen the common position of ACP or to develop alternative policy to avoid further economic enslavement.