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Light shed on EP Agreements

The Point, Gambia

Light Shed on EP Agreements

By Osman Kargbo

5 March 2007

Issues on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and African-Caribbean-Pacific States were discussed on Wednesday at a one-day seminar held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The EPA negotiations on trade, market access, tariff cut, among others are presently going on between member countries and regions such as West Africa and the European Union.

It is against this backdrop that the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) decided to organise a seminar funded by ActionAid International The Gambia (AAITG) to sensitise the public on the crucial issues inherent in the EPAs.

“The background to the EPA negotiations is complex, and the negotiations are influenced by many potential and economic factors,” said Mrs Sarata Conateh, Economist, the GCCI.

She added that the EPA negotiations, in terms of both their scope and their development objective, concern all citizens of West African countries, not just the negotiators and the governments.

“Therefore your understanding of and participation in the negotiations are very crucial,” she said.

Although Article 34 of the development agreement specifies that “Economic and trade corporation shall aim at fostering the smooth and gradual integration of ACP States in the world economy” for sustainable development and poverty eradication, but what obtains in reality is a different ballgame, contends Mr Ousman Bah of the AAITG.

In his statement delivered on the occasion, Mr Bah, Communication Officer of AAITG, pointed out the paradox surrounding the EPAs: “However, over the past two decades, the right of African countries to pursue their own individual and collective development agenda have been attacked and subverted by the countries of the north that dominate the world economic system, as part of their never-ending attempts to further open up the economies of their transnational corporations.

“ It is against this backdrop that AAITG and her partners in the Civil Society fraternity are calling on the Governments of ACP countries to stop the negotiations of the EPAs with the EU.

“ActionAid believes that EPAs are an anti-development agreements, which is in direct violation of the Social, Economic and Cultural Rights of the people as enshrined in the UN Charter. They will continue to confine Africa to a marginal role in the world economy and will reduce millions of people into poverty, marginalisation and destitution.”

Sound, enlightening and controversial presentations were also delivered by Mr Sait Mboob of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Alagie Kebbeh of the Civil Society fraternity and Mr Mam Cherno Jallow of the GCCI.