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Mauritian body contests EPA pact

Afrique En Ligne

Mauritian body contests EPA pact

28 August 2009

(Pana) Port-Louis. A Mauritian socio-political movement, "Rezistans ek Alternativ", Friday asked the Mauritian government to stop the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, planned to be signed Saturday at Grand Baie.

"We are asking the Mauritian government to call back the Parliament so that they discuss this document before this interim agreement is signed," said Messrs Roody Muneean and Ashok Subron, two leaders of the movement.

According to them, some technocrats and some ministers are forcing the country to sign the almost irreversible agreements without allowing the people and their representatives in parliament to know their contents and consequences on the Mauritian economy and future generations.

Muneean and Subron said the technocrats and the elites had not learnt the lessons of the past.

"The agreements with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) signed hastily by Mauritius and other countries have been negative for many developing countries," they said, recalling that the interim agreement to be signed Saturday was never discussed between the government and the civil society in Mauritius.

They denounced the fact that unions, owners of small businesses, organisations grouping fishermen and other citizen movements were totally excluded from the negotiation process.

"Those who will benefit from the EPA are not those who will have to suffer its consequences," they said.

Citing a study by the Mauritian government which dates back to 2004, they said Mauritius would gain nothing by signing the agreement that will make customs revenues on the island fall by 54% and threaten about 60,000 jobs.

"The EPA will not improve the living conditions of the population. It will only lock up our economies in a neo-colonial strategy of exports based on cheap labour force and degradable working conditions for our populations.

’’It (pact) is not concerned with the development of Mauritius and Africa but it will generate more benefits for the European companies and some local interests, " Muneean and Subron said.