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Osinbajo VP says FG consulting on ECOWAS-EU free trade deal

Osinbajo explained that in the consultation process ``it is equally important that as we make the decision, we take into consideration the concerns of these critical stakeholders and tread cautiously."

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigeria would continue consultations within the country regarding its stance on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between ECOWAS and the European Union.

Osinbajo said this at the 49th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Dakar, Senegal, a statement issued by the Vice Presidential Spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, said on Sunday.

According to him there are ongoing negotiations on it and government is discussing with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some other key economic players about it.

The vice president, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the Summit, noted that ``we understand some of the terms of this agreement are capable of restricting manufacturers’ trading activities and we will not want this to happen."

Osinbajo explained that in the consultation process ``it is equally important that as we make the decision, we take into consideration the concerns of these critical stakeholders and tread cautiously."

He noted that Nigeria had yet to fully endorse the agreement because of those concerns.

While a number of West African nations had endorsed the deal, some, including Nigeria, raised issues regarding the implications of the deal in their commercial activities.

EPA is a free trade deal initialed by EU and ECOWAS negotiators, covering trade in goods and development cooperation.

He added that the Federal Government could not be committed to such an agreement without wide consultations.

He, however, restated Nigeria's commitment and obligations to the regional body, having recently paid its dues.

This is coming against the background of worries that some of the member-states had not fulfilled their financial obligations.

``We are also very committed to ECOWAS; as the largest economy in the region, we have constantly fulfilled our obligations and we intend to continue to do this," the Vice President declared.

Presidents, prime ministers and top officials from the 16 ECOWAS-member states gathered in Dakar over the weekend to deliberate on important issues.

The summit, which ended on Saturday, witnessed the inauguration of the new ECOWAS Commission President, Mr Marcel de Souza.

The ECOWAS leaders commended President Muhammadu Buhari, and the nation on the progress recorded against the Boko Haram insurgents.

At the summit, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was chosen as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, taking over from her Senegalese counterpart, Mr Macky Sall.

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