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Coalition proposes alternative to EU, ACP trade agreement

Daily Independent (Nigeria) | Monday 10th, April, 2006

Coalition Proposes Alternative To EU, ACP Trade Agreement

By Bukola Ojeme

Senior Correspondent, Abuja

A coalition of non-governmental organisations, opposed to the ongoing negotiation between European Union and African, Caribean and Pacific countries, under the Economic Partnership Agreement, has soften its stance on the discussion.

The coalition, at the weekend, unveiled a document that outlines a fresh alternative to the terms of the trade agreement.

The group, which met in Abuja, under the auspices of the Nigeria Trade Network and Oxfam, said the new document would be presented to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional negotiator, for consideration.

The report was prepared by the European Centre for Development Policy Management and funded by Oxfam.

Presenting the report, the Policy Advisor at Oxfam, Berthram Zegema, stated that the terms of the Economic Partnership Agreement as presently proposed by the EU are, “incapable of promoting fair development as they pose a severe threat to the development of ACP countries and their people”.

Zegema insisted that the Economic Partnership Agreement in its present form, “contravene the commitment of the EU to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction”.

He therefore called on the Nigerian civil society to, “continue to work with parliamentarians, governments, and the European Commission to contribute to an outcome of these negotiations that will create a fairer trading relationship that brings about genuine benefits and economic opportunities for poor people.

The representative of ECDPM, Mr Francesco Rampa, remarked during the presentation that the purpose of the report is to show all the available options in the trade terms between EU and ACP countries, rather than the disadvantaged position, which the ACP countries are placed in the negotiation.

One of the alternatives to Economic Partnership Agreement as proposed in the document is to give more flexibility to the ACP countries in terms of exceptions for sensitive productive sectors, a longer transition period and making market opening by the ACP countries conditional on specific development indicators, such as poverty reduction and employment reduction.

 source: Daily Independent