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Wednesday, 03 March 2010

Five reasons to suspend EPA negotiations

By Ablassé Ouédraogo, former Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and former special advisor to the President of ECOWAS for trade negotiations. In September 2002, the EU began trade negotiations with 76 African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP). The negotiations were prompted by pressure from the WTO to abandon long and preferential trade relations between Europe and ACP countries. These treatments did not comply with WTO rules and were considered to discriminate against developing countries in Asia and Latin America. In their place, the European Commission proposed to introduce Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and other regional blocs. EPAs have two pillars: trade liberalization and development. In addition to reducing poverty, they also aim to foster the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy and to promote regional integration. All of which is noble and good. But after seven years of fruitless discussions, Europe is now attempting to impose the agreements by force rather than dialogue. If the agreements were finalized in their present form, they would deny ACP countries the essential political instruments necessary for their development. The result would be a total contradiction with the initial objectives, compromising regional integration, exacerbating poverty and preventing countries from diversifying production and freeing themselves from dependence on a few basic commodities. There are five good reasons why the negotiations should be suspended.

Source: Jeune Afrique

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