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Third World Network wants government to decline EPA pact

Daily Graphic, Ghana

Third World Network wants government to decline EPA pact

23 August 2008

The Third World Network (TWN) has said that it will continue to mount pressure on the government and policy makers for them to withdraw from signing a non-preferential economic partnership with the European Union (EU).

At a press conference in Accra on Thursday ahead of the 11th Annual Review and Strategic Meeting of the Africa Trade Network (ATN), a coalition of non-governmental organizations across Africa, the Programmes Officer; Environment Unit of TWN, Mr Gyekye Tanoh, said "it is still necessary that as civil society, we intervene to ensure that Ghana gets the best deal in the process”.

The Accra meeting, hosted by TWN Africa, will focus on responding to the new challenges emerging for the ATN’s ongoing flagship campaign against the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Since Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire signed an Interim Partnership Agreement in December last year, neither of their Parliaments has been able to ratify the agreement, when the deadline elapsed in two months ago.

“The interim EPA is fraudulent because it goes beyond what it claims to do. Instead of focusing on trade in goods, the agreement actually captures the Singapore issues such as procurement, trade-related issues and intellectual property rights," he stated .

"More importantly, from the point of view of genuine development, the lEPAs are also a framework for expansion into full and comprehensive EPAs, which include commitments that have been rejected and thrown out of the WTO, such as universal liberalization and deregulation of services and investment rules," Mr Tanoh added.

Although the EU claimed that it was illegal to trade within the old trading system under which it offered non-reciprocal market access to countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), it has since December last year not notified World Trade Organisation (WTO) about the interim agreement.

This means that the two parties still trade based on the old system, which is premised on the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in Benin in 2000.

The Programme Officer of the TWN said the so-called interim EPA conflicted with most of Ghana’s local laws, policies and programmes such as the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GPIP) and defeated the pro-industry Domestic Content Bill.

The four-day annual review and strategy meeting of the ATN would, therefore, explore some of these issues and examine options by locating the current conjuncture of the EPAs in a more comprehensive context of the global economy and form a perspective of shared analysis of the real development options for Africa today.

“Equally, such clarification will facilitate linkages and mobilization of strategic constituencies and help sustain the upscaling of the Stop EPA campaign and its broad range of advocacy and campaign intervention outside and inside the official negotiations," Mr Tanoh said.

Some specific issues to be discussed from Monday, August 25 to Thursday, August 28, this year, will include Global and African economic context today; Global Crises, the rise of China and other emerging powers and the commodity boom, as well as examining the interim EPAs on trade in goods) and EPAs (Services, Singapore Issues).