In advice for a new report by the development charity ActionAid a lawyer in Matrix Chambers today warns that European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson is violating a legal duty to Africa by undermining alternatives to his trade plans which, critics fear, threaten the jobs of millions of poor people.
African civil society organizations supported by a number of major European NGOs have moved into clear confrontation with the European Commission on the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). They say these deals will wreck domestic African agriculture and industry and are warning African politicians not to go along with them.
The upcoming Asian-African Summit will focus on establishing a new strategic partnership, and would not as yet move toward ideas of linking the two continents via a free trade agreement. "However, we have identified that (a FTA) is one form of cooperation that we can pursue in the long term," Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs secretary-general Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat said.
Bi- and multilateral trade relations between external actors and individual African states or regional blocs are becoming ever more decisive. The trade policies of both the USA and the EU are anything but helpful.
Press release of the launch of the STOP EPA campaign at the Africa Social Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, on 14 December 2004
CAFOD is asking the UK government to hold the EU to drop all ‘offensive interests’ in the EPA negotiations in Africa and provide African countries ‘alternative’ non-reciprocal trade relationships that are not free trade areas
Unable to get its own way through the World Trade Organisation, the EU is now shamelessly trying to corral some of the world’s poorest nations into bilateral trade agreements that would severely disadvantage them.
The European Union is on the verge of implementing a series of free trade agreements and is leading a trade policy that can hold its own against the American policy.
The drive for a Comesa Customs Union (CU) has suffered a major setback following sharp differences among member states on the proposed common external tariffs.
Throughout history, international trade has generated considerable controversy. While conceding that some trade was imperative, Aristotle observed that trade was disruptive of community life. Until the 19th Century, most European powers viewed trade as a form of undeclared warfare. Their objective was - and still remains - the maximization of benefits accruing to themselves and minimization of those accruing to rival nations. The weapons of choice in this warfare were import barriers.
This Sunday, trade representatives from member states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) will meet their counterparts from the United States in Walvis Bay, to resume negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement, expected to be concluded by the end of this year.