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Thursday, 21 July 2011

The sooner we reach consensus on EPAs, the better

In an opinion piece, the former Ugandan ambassador to the EU, Harold Acemah, details his views on the Economic and Partnership Agreement (EPA) that is currently negotiated between the EU and the East African Community (EAC). Read his views below.

While I share many of the concerns expressed by my colleague and friend Ambassador Nathan Irumba in a statement he issued on behalf of several Civil Society Organisations and published by the East African recently, I would like to state that I concur with some of the views expressed by EU Ambassador Roberto Ridolfi in his article on the EPAs published in the Saturday Monitor of July 2. As one who represented Uganda at the EU- African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) negotiations from 2004 - 2008, I welcome the clarifications he made of the issues on which there is deadlock, misunderstanding, disinformation and even misrepresentation of facts. [...]

Since 2000, Uganda has not taken full advantage of that offer made by the EU, which is commonly known as EBA, i.e. duty free and quota free access of everything but arms, from LDC countries, including Uganda. For example, the embassy of Uganda in Brussels negotiated duty free and quota free access of Ugandan honey to the EU market in 2005, but as far as I know, Uganda has not exported even one ton of honey to the EU market.

This is the crux of the matter. Uganda and most African countries simply lack the capacity to produce sufficient quantities of commodities and goods for sale on the world market. Our leaders have a tendency to talk big about our capacity to produce commodities and goods for international trade when in reality we produce very little for export on predictable and sustainable basis. [...]

The EU as well as the ACP Group must summon the necessary political will to resolve the impasse in the EPAs negotiations. There is need to strengthen the economic, political and historical links and relations which bind us for the mutual benefit of the peoples of Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. I sincerely hope that a new economic partnership agreement will soon be concluded and signed by the EU and ACP Countries.

Source: Daily Monitor

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