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Wednesday, 08 September 2010

EPA the biggest threat to African integration

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has the potential to split Africa and poses a great threat to the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) planned economic and financial integration, a civil society and trade analyst in the region declared recently. Speaking at a Civil Society gathering code named ‘The Southern African People’s Solidarity Network’, a trade and justice activist in the region, Dot Keet, said the EPA has the potential to derail efforts to unite both SADC and Africa’s goals of integration. “We throw our weight behind the decision by Namibia not to sign the EPA agreement because the agreement has no benefits for the continent. It is important that countries stick to what they believe including charging tariffs on their exports for the benefit of the locals,” said Keet. According to Keet, SADC and the African continent as a whole has laid proper platforms that can be accessed to promote regional trade, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African countries (COMESA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). She added that it is more important for African states to promote inter-regional and African trade for the betterment of the African people. While the SADC civil society has shown its reservations against what they term ‘European dominance’ through the EPA, some SADC countries, including Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, have already inked the agreement. Namibia, South Africa and Angola are still back-pedalling on the agreement, calling for the consideration of some outstanding issues including infant industry protection and tariff charges on exports to the EU.

Source: Trade Law Center for Southern Africa