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Aid groups say African trade deals deepen poverty


Aid groups say African trade deals deepen poverty

26 September 2006

NAIROBI, Sept 26 (Reuters) - African countries risk sinking further into poverty if the European Union pushes ahead with new free trade deals that could harm local industry and farming by unfair competition, non-governmental aid groups said on Tuesday.

The EU is negotiating with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations to bring the so-called economic partnership agreements (EPAs) into force by Jan. 1, 2008.

The EPAs allows for eventual full trade liberalisation which aid lobbyists and critics say would harm poor countries economies most by unrestricted flow of imports.

"It is unacceptable for the EU to be pushing so hard for a free-trade deal with Africa when the consequences will be so disastrous to development and human rights", said Valarie Gnide Traore, a programme manager at development agency ACORD.

Three non-governmental bodies — ACORD, EcoNews Africa and Oxfam — said they would petition the EU and African countries attending trade talks in the Indian Ocean city of Mombasa on Wednesday to address their concerns over fair trade deals.