African NGOS are critical of EPAs
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CTA. 2003. African NGOS are critical of EPAs. Agritrade, June 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52445
A recent MWENGO background paper 'Between a rock and a hard place' reviews the...
A recent MWENGO background paper 'Between a rock and a hard place' reviews the current negotiations and provides a summary of what the EU is seeking. It also highlights the significant differences in the EU and ACP approaches to EPA negotiations as reflected in the respective mandates and guidelines, including fundamental differences in objectives and regarding the scope of EPAs. It notes that the benefits are uncertain while there is wide agreement on the likelihood of negative impacts. It also notes that EPAs are geared towards meeting the EU's agenda to expand its market share throughout the world. It points out that the ACP have explicitly stated that they do not consider that EPAs should necessarily imply that ACP countries must liberalise, even if it is not in their interests to do so. The paper maintains that ACP countries have entered these negotiations because of pressures from EU and WTO rules rather than because they genuinely feel that EPAS are in their interests. It suggests that this why the ACP are putting forward demands for additional funding and debt cancellation as compensation for the negative impact of EPAs. Against the background of the vast inequalities in negotiating strengths the paper notes that to date there has been barely any convergence between the ACP Group and the EU in the substance, approach and objectives of what the trade negotiations should really be about. The paper is extremely pessimistic over the prospects of the ACP securing a pro-poor development agreement and sets out clearly the grounds for this pessimism. It stresses that much of the debate around EPAs is about damage limitation, and calls for a serious assessment of the costs and benefits of maintaining preferences through reciprocity and the costs and benefits of abandoning preferential access to the EU market in favour of continued protection of national and regional markets within a framework of intensified economic integration within the ACP regions. The following questions are posed: 'Why negotiate a liberalisation agreement with the EU, until it has made commitments to reform its own trade policies and practices towards developing countries? Or until it has agreed to support debt cancellation? Or until it has agreed to substantially increase aid to promote ACP economic revival?' Comment: This MWENGO paper reflects the profound concerns amongst non-state actors ion East and Southern Africa over the adverse effects which EPAs could have given the agricultural base of most of their economies. It sharply contests European Commission assertions that the proposed EPAs are a tool for development.