As European Trade Director visits: EU must stop imposing its trade agenda on Africa!

Original Publication Date: 
17 January, 2005

Press release from EcoNews Africa in relation to the visit
by EC Trade Director Karl Falkenberg
Nairobi

The European Commission’s Director of Trade, Mr. Karl Falkenberg, comes to Kenya at a critical point in time. Negotiations on the so called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and ACP countries are moving ahead in areas of crucial importance to Kenya, such as agriculture, industrial goods and services.

Under the EPAs negotiations, which aim at creating Free Trade Areas between the two parts, African countries will be forced to open up their markets completely to European goods and services. This would be devastating for domestic agriculture and industrial production, as domestic producers will be faced with an unfair competition from increased EU imports. Moreover, African countries risk loosing at least 10% of government revenue, which will have severe effects on governments’ abilities to sustain basic social services such as health and education.

“Falkenberg is doing a sales pitch in the EPAs in which he packages them as good for Africa. But nothing could be further from the reality. EPAs are about what is good for Europe and are incompatible with the development needs of African countries. Even in Europe, concerned voices are increasingly being raised about the inappropriateness of demanding reciprocity from some of the world’s poorest countries. Tony Blair’s Africa Commission has recommended that trade agreements between EU and Africa should not require Africa to open their markets in return for access to European markets,” said Peter Aoga from EcoNews Africa.

“In multilateral trade talks, the EU has offered the poorest countries of the world, commonly refered to as the G90, an exclusion from further tariff reductions. Why does the EU then insist that the very same countries must open up their markets completely to European goods in the EPAs negotiations?” said Oduor Ong’wen from Seatini Kenya.

“Through the EPAs, the EU is trying to sneak in issues thorough the backdoor, such as investment and government procurement, that African countries have been resisting in the WTO. Africa’s resistance on these issues was crucial to the collapse of the last WTO Ministerial in Cancun. In July last year it was agreed to drop these issues from the current Doha Round negotiations. In pushing for these issues in the EPAs, EU is going beyond what has been agreed at the WTO”, said Steve Ouma from Kenya Human Rights Commission.

In the multilateral trade negotiations, the government procurement discussions were limited to issues related to transparency in procurement processes. But in the EPAs, the EU goes further and insists on negotiating a market access agreement, which would open up African countries procurement markets to foreign companies.