President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria has been reluctant to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) among ECOWAS countries to protect her economy, especially the industries and small businesses currently providing jobs for majority Nigerians.
He said signing the agreement would expose industries and small businesses to external pressures and competitions, which could lead to closures and job losses.
The president said this at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa yesterday, while receiving a letter of credence from the head of delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Ketil Iversen Karlsen.
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."
Commending the EU for its support for the rehabilitation of the northeast, Buhari said Nigerian economy was being repositioned to attract more investments that would create jobs.
Karlsen said the EU would 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," he stated.
Buhari also received letters of credence from the Ambassador of Italy, Dr. Stefano Pontesilli and the Ambassador of Spain, Mr Marcelino Cabanas Ansorena.