EU-ACP trade negotiations: new threats for East Africa
As Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are implementing the recently signed Customs Union Protocol, the European Union is undermining integration between the countries through trade negotiations which have seen the three countries split up in two different negotiating blocs”, said Jane Nalunga from Seatini, Uganda, at a conference in Nairobi on the current trade negotiations between the EU and ACP countries. At this very moment a series of negotiations on crucial issues, such as agriculture, industrial goods and services, are going on – negotiations which will open East African markets to a flood of European goods and services.
Forty civil society representatives from ten countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have gathered in Nairobi during two days to voice their concerns on the negotiations on the so called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
“These agreements are Free Trade Areas being negotiated between some of the world’s richest countries and some of the poorest, where African countries will be facing huge government revenue losses through elimination of tariffs, increased unemployment following collapse of local industries and threatened livelihoods of millions of small scale farmers due to competition from increased European imports”, said Ashok Subron from Resistance and Alternatives, Mauritius.
The civil society representatives are concerned since the negotiations are threatening genuine regional integration efforts going on in the Eastern and Southern Africa region.
“These negotiations will lead to trade diversions rather than trade creation in our region and unfair competition from European goods, at a crucial time when the Eastern and Southern African countries - and particularly a country like Kenya - should be putting the emphasis on developing and promoting the regional markets instead”, said Peter Aoga from EcoNews Africa, Kenya.
“Ironically as European ministers are traveling all over Africa, as currently the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, promoting new initiatives for Africa like Tony Blair’s Commission, they have given their mandate to the EPAs negotiations, which many African ministers have expressed their worries with. The EU is rushing the EPAs process with extremely unrealistic time frames, using their divide and rule negotiating tactic to push through their own trade and investment agenda - and in this even going beyond what has been agreed at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)”, said Richard Kamidza from Seatini, Zimbabwe.