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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

EPAs: harmful for the ACP?

A series of new experts quoted by The Southern Times call into question the benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) to be signed between the EU and the ACP countries.
Thomas Deve, who is based at the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information Negotiations Institute says despite their posture as “partnership agreements”, the EU’s proposals are clearly wrapped in the free market fundamentalism espoused by the international financial institutions and the WTO: “Economic Partnership Agreements that are currently being negotiated between the European Union and some governments in Africa since 2004 are not development-oriented and it is doubtful that they will promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, reinforcement of regional integration, improved market access, and the gradual integration of Africa into the global economy.
“Apart from threatening the food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, the EPAs would also thwart government’s ability to use procurement as a tool for social change. Besides, it will also take away the policy space that is necessary for government to direct foreign investors to areas critical for national development”, said Tetteh Hormeku, head of programmes at the Third World Network-Ghana.
Hormeku points out that liberalisation has already led to uneven competition as the EU’s unwillingness to abolish agricultural subsidies has led to the demise of many African producers. “If the EPAs come into effect, countries will experience a catastrophe. Signing to it will cover a large area of trade in goods and services.The EU demands 80 percent tariff liberalisation; and the abolishing of export tariffs would impact negatively on local producers, consumers and government revenues,” he said.
Professor of Economics and former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Chukwuma Charles Soludo goes further to affirm EPAs are the modern equivalent of the Berlin Conference that led to Africa’s partitioning among European powers and colonisation. He  adds that EPAs will destroy Africa’s nascent industrial sector and agriculture: “Africa would almost be consigned to be specialists in the export of raw materials… The list of the damages is long and cannot be detailed here.”
The Southern Africa–EU EPA negotiations were launched on July 8, 2004, in Windhoek, Namibia, with both sides agreeing on a joint roadmap setting out the principles, organisation, main stages and timeframe of the negotiations.


Source: The Southern Times