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Resist Economic Partnership Agreements
Masimba Nyamanhindi, Students Solidarity Trust
January 23, 2007

It has been three years since members of the African Trade Netwwork (ATN) launched their opposition to the Economic Partnership agreements. Since then, several hundred civil society organisations across Africa, the Carribean, the Pacific and Europe have been pursuing a campaign to STOP the EPAs, as currrently being negotiated between the European Union and ACP groupings of countries.

"EPAs is about domination, it is about exploitation, all in the name of partnership", held Malcom Damon, from the Economic Justice Network in South Africa, in a meeting convened by the Africa Trade Network at the on-going WSF.

EPAs, in its current form will expand Europe's access to ACP markets for its goods, services, and investements; expose ACP producers to unfair European competition in domestic and regional markets, and increase the domination and concetration of European firms, goods and services.

This will lead to deeper unemployment, loss of livelihoods, food insecurity and social and gender inequity and inequality as well as undermine human and social rights. EPAs will also endanger the on-going but fragile processes of regional integration among the ACP countries; and deepen -as well prolong the socio-economic decline and political fragility that characterises most ACP countries.

The Economic Trade Agreements grants the European countries free access to African markets as stipulated in the Singapore issues, whereupon the EU has a mandate to negotiate all the issues arising effectively demeaning the livelihoods of millions in the ACP region.

The European Union wants to negotiate investment agreement which gives them access to African markets, and to that extent, ACP countries do not want to negotiate, and are refusing the Singapore issues totally.

According to Bibione Mbaye, of ENDA from Senegal, the European Union wants to get free competition and impose the European model in addition to having access to government procurement markets.

Jane Nkuunga, from SEATINI (Uganda) also revealed that the aspect of 'market access' is a carrot that is being dangled in the EPAs, by proffering illusionary reciprocal access.

Yet Africa has to open up its markets by reducing tariffs. "In East and Southern Africa, we are reducing tariffs on raw materials because the EU is subdising their products, production is affected and you cannot add value", held Jane Nkuunga.

Uganda is one country that has been given access to EU markets. But because of supply capacity constraints, Uganda cannot access the EU markets because of the high standards that obtain in the trade arrangements.

It has however emerged from the meeting that the European Commission of French National Assembly, in a report that makes an analysis EPAs on ACP countries has resolved to take away the negotiating power of the EU and empower ACP countries

Sentiments that emerged from the discussion are that the peoples of ACP countries demand and overhaul and review of the EU's neo-liberal external trade policy, particularly with respect to developing countries, and demand that EU-ACP trade cooperation should be founded on approach is based on a principle of no-reciprocity, protects ACP producers domestic and regional markets, reverses the pressure for trade and investement liberalisation and allows the necessary policy space and supports ACP countries to pursue their own development.

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