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Namibia Stands Up to EU 'Bullying'

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Friday, 11 June 2010

Namibia Stands Up to EU 'Bullying'

Tensions between the European Union and Africa have once again erupted, with Namibia accusing the Brussels elite of resorting to bullying tactics in trade negotiations. In official statements, the European Commission -- the EU's executive -- has consistently argued that the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) it has been hoping to conclude with 47 African countries will bring tangible benefits to the continent. African governments have proven far less enthusiastic about these trade liberalisation accords, with some arguing that they are fomenting divisions among neighbours. In a strongly worded address to Namibia's national assembly May 19, the country's trade minister Hage Geingob warned that the EPAs will probably cause the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to disintegrate. Marking its 100th anniversary this year, SACU is the oldest trading bloc of its kind in the world. Whereas analysts say that an essential component of any customs union is that it applies common taxes or tariffs on goods traded with the rest of the world, maintaining that approach may no longer be feasible because SACU's five member states have entered into two different arrangements with the EU. During 2009, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland all signed an EPA covering trade in goods with Europe. South Africa and Namibia, on the other hand, have refused to sign the same accord, viewing it as inimical to their interests.

Source: Inter Press News Agency