A Nigerian delegation will be at the ECOWAS meeting tomorrow to discuss the country’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union which the Nigerian delegation will reject.
However, Dimeji Owofemi, Chairman of the Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria is optimistic that it won’t hurt the Nigerian Cocoa Industry for too long.
“At this present moment, it is hurting us because while Nigeria is rewarding exports of raw beans against the local value addition, with the parent of export expansion grants to the tune of a maximum of 10 per cent on their invoice value, we get a tax value added product from the same country,” he explained.
Nigeria remains the fourth largest exporter of cocoa however, there are still a couple of challenges within the industry despite the Minister of Agriculture’s transformation agenda. According to Owofemi, if the country concentrates on what the minister is doing and on what the minister of trade and investment is also doing, the pain that will come with the non-signing of the EPA will be short lived.
“The situation we are having today, is where Brazil was 15 years ago. When the former president took the decision to say we look inside, that is what brought them to the level they are. The same people who were exporting raw beans from Nigeria, are setting up factories in Ivory Coast and Ghana using the resources we have given them on a platter of gold.”
Nigeria is believed to be doing the right thing by not signing the EPA, as they can’t create the employment that the government needs. Conversely, an African Partnership Agreement will induce set up in Africa.
“It’s not only local manufacturers it will affect, it will affect the local factories of these same people who want to dump things on Nigeria because other beverages that are produced out there are also produced in Nigeria,” he said.