EPAs will not benefit EU, ACP countries - experts

Swazi Observer, Swaziland

EPAs will not benefit EU, ACP countries - experts

21 November, 2012

By Nomthandazo Nkambule

Some experts view the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) as an instrument that will neither benefit the European Union (EU) nor Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the long run.

Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) Executive Director Emmanuel Ndlangamandla said at the end of 2007 Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique signed an interim EPA. He said Namibia only initiated the agreement.

“The signing of the agreement by some member states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) caused tension amongst the members of this body. The EPA negotiations commenced in 2004.
“Because of multiple membership of countries as some are in Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), SACU, East Africa Community (EAC) it resulted in the fragmentation of the SADC group where only seven member states including Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa as an observer as the latter country has an agreement with the EU already,” he said.
Ndlangamandla said the European Commission in Gaborone, in partnership with the government of Botswana, successfully hosted a non-state actors seminar on EPAs.

He said the non-state actors in Swaziland were drawn from CANGO, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), Federation of the Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE&CC).

Ndlangamandla said the ACP had an economic partnership with the European Commission as set out in the Lome Convention of 1970s which was succeeded by the Cotonou Agreement in 2000.

He said the Cotonou Agreement spelled out changes in the terms of trade in order for EU to comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on trade. He said a new EPA was supposed to be in place by the end of 2007.

“The Botswana Head of EU Gerard McGovern noted that there was a deep political engagement with SADC member states aimed at strengthening democracy, the rule of law, good governance and human rights as envisaged in the Cotonou Agreement,” said Ndlangamandla.

He noted that EU was continuing to invest resources to enhance development and was also negotiating a new economic agreement which would be WTO compliant. He stated that protectionism of markets in a globalised economy was no longer a viable option for countries that were serious about their own development.

Botswana Assistant Minister of Trade Vincent Seretse officially opened the seminar. He underscored that EPAs sought to facilitate movement of goods and services as well as trade.

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