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Labour says ’No’ to EPA

Ghanian Times | Thursday, 02 October 2008

Labour Says’No’ To EPA

By Lawrence Akpalu and Dorothy Ankomah

FOUR Labour Organisations have called on leaders of the African-Carribean, and Pacific (ACP) countries not to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement they have signed with the European Union (EU).

The organisations believe that the agreement will impoverish the citizenry of the various ACP countries instead of improving upon their economic lives.

The groups - the African Regional Organisation of the international Trade Union Confederation, the African Trade Network, Ghana Trades Union Congress and the Federation of Labour - made the call at a media briefing in Accra yesterday.

They contended that any trade agreement between the European Union and the ACP countries was not acceptable, given the huge gap between the two parties.

"The agreement which contains a reciprocal market access that obliges ACP countries to remove overtime, costs and custom duties on 80 per cent of all goods emanating from the EU cannot be described as beneficial to the ACP members," the group added.

They further argued that such radical liberalisation "will only further fuel the influx of wide range of goods that would depress ACP markets and undermine industrial and agricultural production given the huge subsidies European producers receive".

They said that most ACP countries rely heavily on custom duties for more than half of their annual revenue, therefore any attempt to remove custom duties on 80 per cent of imports from the EU would decimate ACP’s small production base, wipe employment and livelihoods and undermine efforts at achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The Labour organisations deplored the attitude of the European Commission and accused it of trying to abandon the regional negotiations through signing interim agreements with individual countries which clearly showed that the EU is not interested in the welfare of ACP members.

They said since the EU had refused to listen to the concerns of ACP countries and had rather mounted intense pressure on them, the heads of state of ACP countries must reclaim the destiny of their countries by taking a collective decision on the Economic Partnership Agreement.

 source: Ghanian Times