President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), will expose Nigeria’s industries and small businesses to external competition, which could lead to job losses.
He said this while receiving a Letter of Credence from the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Ketil Iversen Karlsen, at the State House in Abuja.
Nigeria had been reluctant to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) among ECOWAS countries because of the need to protect the economy.
He said, “We are not enthusiastic about signing the EPA because of our largely youthful population. We are still struggling to provide jobs for them, and we want our youths to be kept busy.
“Presently, our industries cannot compete with the more efficient and highly technologically driven industries in Europe. We have to protect our industries and our youths.”
The President who commended the EU for its support for the rehabilitation of the North-East noted that the Nigerian economy was already being repositioned to attract more investments that will create jobs.
In his remarks, Karlsen said the EU will continue to support Buhari’s administration in the key priorities it listed; security, economy and the fight against corruption.
He said the EPA was designed to accommodate and protect some economies that would find it difficult to compete.
“We are hopeful that there will be a signature on the agreement,” Karlsen added.
Buhari also received Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of Italy, Stefano Pontesilli and the Ambassador of Spain, Marcelino Ansorena.