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Thursday, 09 December 2010

EU has a hidden agenda in EPA, says expert

The European Union (EU) has a hidden agenda in its trade negotiations with the East African Community (EAC), which is not open to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), policy expert has said. Dr Arndt Hopfmann, regional director for Africa at the Berlin-based Centre for International Dialogue and Cooperation, believes that there is some kind of collaboration between some African leaders, negotiators and the EU on the ongoing trade negations referred to as Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). “It is the responsibility of the people to know the details of the agreement, but we are not sure of the content and the exact details. The real wording of the text should be brought to people’s hands,” Hopfmann said during a regional workshop organised by SEATINI Uganda from November 25-26 on positioning EAC regional integration in the context of EPAs. He argued that some of the clauses in the agreement, such as the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause, will prevent the EAC from entering into mutually beneficial contracts with countries such as China, Brazil, and other emerging nations. “Some of the clauses are designed to prevent growing influence from China, Brazil and other emerging nations,” said Hopfmann. SEATINI Uganda Country Director Jane Nalunga said the EPA should support existing regional integration initiatives in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and should not compromise them. “EPA should first of all aid in consolidating the ACP/EAC markets before promoting commercial integration with the EU,” Nalunga said. With mixed reactions on whether or not to sign an EPA, a cross section of participants resolved that there was need to first strengthen the regional cooperation before signing EPA.

Source: Trade Law Center for Southern Africa