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Mauritian MLAs asked to stop the process of EPA

African News Dimension

Mauritian MLAs asked to stop the process of EPA

28 September 2006

By Samuel Mungadze

Port-Louis (AND) A Mauritian political party called Rezistans ek Alternativ (RA) has asked local MLAs to help in stopping the process of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) which, according to its members, Mauritius and fourteen other African countries have agreed to negotiate with the European Union, without realising the implication of such an agreement.

In an open letter to them, RA said it is a myth to believe that EPA is about the economic, cultural and social development of East and Southern Africa (ESA) countries. "EPA is simply a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the richest and the poorest countries of the planet. The EU is imposing on ACP countries to enter into a reciprocal trading system through EPAs.

This new paradigm is a major shift from non-reciprocal market access for the ACP through the Lomé Convention," Roody Muneean and Dany Marie, members of the
party said. They that added that reciprocity means that products from the EU will
penetrate local markets duty free.

They said that an impact assessment study carried out by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and International Trade in February 2004 has revealed that with a fully implemented EPA, there would be a shift in consumption away from local producers to EU supplies.

"As a consequence, we estimate that the production for the domestic market of manufactures and primary products would decline by 24% with bulk in manufacturing. It will also result in a fall in employment of around 12% with the bulk again in manufactures and the main impact felt by female employment," they said.

According to them, it is a myth to believe that EPAs are about social development.

Muneean and Marie stressed that the one benefitting from EPA negotiations will be EU corporations interested only in profit.

"The ESA region has a market size of 400 million people and it has a real potential to grow. EPAs are being used to push issues that the EU has not been able to get through
the WTO. This has contributed to the collapse of the present Doha round of negotiations," they explained.

With the easy penetration and departure of capital and market control, they underlined, a new cycle of colonization of Africa by capital would start within a new legal model.

"EPA will definitely bring endless poverty for Africa," they insisted.

It appears that the preoccupation of Mauritius, the members of RA said, is not to oppose the unjust rules of the present EPA nor to fight for a better agreement ’as social movements and even many African governments are appealing for’

"Mauritius is rather bargaining for money as accompanying measures for the implementation of the EPA. This is why they are negotiating for the European Development Fund. Unfortunately, EDF will not be for the people as the fund will be mainly used for funding the Mauritian sugar oligarchy plans and the private sector agenda," they declared.

They added that jobs will, thus, be destroyed, precarious jobs will proliferate, agricultural land conversion for construction of luxurious villas will be encouraged and electricity production would be privatised.

"EPA is a real hindrance to people rights in Mauritius and in Africa, and as you have been elected to defend people rights, you must voice to stop this process. Mauritius and Africa need your help to stop this process," members of RA emphasised.

By Nasseem Ackbarally Mauritius Bureau (AND).