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NGO wants Mauritius to stop EPA negotiations with EU

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NGO wants Mauritius to stop EPA negotiations with EU

7 October 2008

Port-Louis, Mauritius - The Mauritian NGO, Rezistans ek Alternativ, has asked the government to stop the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) process with the European Union (EU) in the midst of the financial, food and energy crisis.

In a letter to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Arvin Boolell on Tuesday, Roody Muneean, animator of Rezistans ek Alternativ said that stooping to the EU by signing EPAs was equivalent to choosing an economic destiny which the world crisis mirrors.

"This is the worst time to institutionalise the so called ’free trade regimes’ even more deeply and fundamentally than they have already taken root," Muneean emphasised.

According to him, EPAs are not about development of the people of Mauritius and Africa.

Instead, he added, "they are about development of more profit by EU corporations and some local interests."

Muneean said an impact assessment on Mauritius showed that there were no gains for Mauritius in signing an EPA.

He affirmed that customs revenue would shrink by 54 per cent and massive workers lay-off would follow in industries involved in local production.

The people of Mauritius will not be better off, Muneean said, adding that "the market access advantage from EPA is nothing more than the further locking of our economies in the neo-colonial export led strategy, based on cheap labour and degrading working conditions for our people."

He said that it was high time Mauritius moved towards a strategy of food and energy sovereignty to ensure its food and energy security, as well as ensure decent work for its people.

The development of an alternative economic strategy, based on the development of an agro/marine model, which will allow people feed people and allow them to strive is a prerequisite. "The development of genuine regional integration in the context of this economic strategy is central," Muneean stressed, adding that going for EPAs was to move in the opposite direction.