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EU-Africa free trade agreement 'destroys' development policy

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Monday, 10 November 2014

EU-Africa free trade agreement 'destroys' development policy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Africa Commissioner, Günter Nooke issued harsh criticism of the EU’s joint free trade deal with multiple African countries, claiming the EPA counteracts Europe’s development policy efforts.

“Economic negotiations should not destroy what has been built up on the other side in the Development Ministry”, the German government’s Africa Commissioner Günter Nooke commented in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD on Tuesday (4 November).

Germany and Europe contribute large sums of tax money toward various development programmes in Africa, Nooke explained, but the economic agreement with African states cancels out these efforts.

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and several African states encourages African countries to open up to 83% of their markets to European imports. Meanwhile tariffs and fees are planned to be gradually eliminated.

In exchange, African states receive customs-free access to the European market. But many African countries are still resisting the EPA, amid concerns that they might lose their competitive trade advantage opposite European companies.

Kenya is among the countries that refused to sign. In response, the EU imposed import tariffs on multiple Kenyan products effective from 1 October. Media has reported that the measure led to numerous layoffs in several African firms.

Under this pressure, Nairobi finally snapped two weeks ago, and added its signature to the trade agreement.

Andrew Mold, the UN’s economic analyst for east Africa, said he sees the African economy as being threatened by the agreement in the long-term.

“The African countries cannot compete with an economy like Germany’s. As a result, free trade and EU imports endanger existing industries, and future industries do not even materialise because they are exposed to competition from the EU,” Mold commented.

Source: euractiv.com