Daily News (Tanzania) Thursday, 12 June 2014
Scholar skeptical of agreements with EU
Written by LUDOVICK KAZOKA
THE Intergovernmental Think Tank commonly known as South Centre has rubbished threats by European Union (EU) of withholding support to African countries should they fail to ratify Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Instead, the centre has come up with a collective stand during a public lecture organised by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) on Tuesday, noting that African states will not be affected negatively if they reject the agreement.
EPAs are a scheme to create a free trade area between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The EU has set September this year as the deadline for ACP to sign the agreements.
South Centre Executive Director, Prof Yashpal Tandon that EPA will not have positive impact on African countries and instead the agreement only aims at promoting the EU and its products.
"Basically, they (Europeans) are the ones who will be affected because the agreements are aimed at promoting their industries," said the South Centre Executive Director.
Prof Tandon pointed out that under the EPA, signatories would have to tender globally and that African countries would have to compete with European countries.
"Which African country will have the economic muscle to compete with any European country?," asked Prof Tandon, who is also the former political science lecturer at UDSM. Commenting on the topic, former president, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, said that rushing into endorsing such agreements would result in negative effects on the future of African industrialisation.
"African countries should not rush to endorse EPAs as the agreements will have very serious consequences for the future industrialisation of Africa," he stressed, urging African states to thoroughly conduct sufficient survey on the matter prior to its approval.
Mr Mkapa who doubles as the chairman of South Centre, pointed out that EPA would have many negative consequences.
These negative consequences, according to Mr Mkapa, could include the possibility of diminishing revenue capacity of independent governments and increased dependence on the goodwill of donors (European Union). Such a scenario would be excruciatingly humiliating.
The think tank of the South was founded by leaders of the South, including leaders from China, Brazil, India and several African countries and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was its founding chairman.
"The call in the EPAs for a freeze in new export taxes and a freeze in increasing existing export taxes spell diminishing development resources," Mr Mkapa boldly remarked.
He explained that under EPAs the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would not be able to produce products to compete with European inputs and that they would undergo a natural death.