Thursday, March 18, 2010

Economic Partnership Agreements Not The Answer For African Integration

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)- The much talked about and infamous agreement in the African Continent is the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that if signed will negatively affect many Africans both present and future generations. If the EPAs come into force, it will unfortunately incapacitate many countries revenue's generated income.
But with pressure intensifying daily on some of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), if steps are not taken by civil society organisations, it may lead to some countries to sign the agreement. The signing of Ghana and Cote d' Ivoire, is an interim signing but lot have to be done for Nigeria and others not to follow the suits. International trade agreements and rules continued to affect millions of poor people's life and livelihood daily in the world, with African countries takes the lion share.
The EPAs, a set of trade agreements between African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU) are expected to bring about increased trade and economic development for the two blocks through a tariff-free and quota-free system, but many decision makers and cautions economists in Africa have been skeptical about the whole deal, saying it would bring more harm than good to the economies of Africa , who is always at the receiving end of the trade relation.
As the negotiation of the EPAs is in high gears, many advocates especially the civil society organizations and the media need to advocates for it not to be sign in it's current form. In many parts of Africa, we learned that trade justice advocates continue to be skeptical on the results of a finalized trade package based on reciprocal basic between the EU and West Africa.
In a nutshell the agreement do not only affect the ACP countries but also in Europe as many are have been skeptical about the agreement concerning trade negotiations of the EPAs in its current form.
"Skepticism's have been expressed in several quarters. The end of trade asymmetries will bring about many serious consequences, for which many African countries will be ill equipped, that is, lowering of customs and budget revenue, competition with imported products, and so on."
EPAs will pose serious policy, resource and adjustment challenges that will apparently outweigh the opportunities to increased volumes and varieties. Import growth will also undermine domestic production in import competitive activities, which will later lead to unemployment in the ACP countries. Many believed that EPAs will also threaten intra- Economic Organisation of West African States (ECOWAS) trade, which is one of the fundamentals of the regional integration.
As ACP countries, we can be sure of that the EU is prosing much be in Europeans intrest, but by grouping together and integrating key aspects of our economic and social organisation, we can proudly say "No to EPAs in its Current Form".
The proposed agreement, if signed will posed a threat to the giant economic development strides that many countries are enjoying.
As ACP countries,it is a matter of urgency to work to unite all stakeholders, that is policy makers, civil society organisations, private sector operators and the media to engage in dialogue on the state of affairs of the negotiations on the EPAs that lies ahead us. EPAs in its current will not afford the benefits of promoting regional integration, since EPAs will be negotiated between the EU and various regional groups of the ACP regions such as ECOWAS for West African countries.
Kudos to the West African negotiators and the civil society organisations for their efforts in speaking with one voice for the EPAs not to be signed on the 31st December, 2007. Bravo all to the players as the death line for the signing never happen took place, and now no death line is announced.

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