Rhetoric and reality: Critique of the Commission's approach to EPAs
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CTA. 2002. Rhetoric and reality: Critique of the Commission's approach to EPAs. Agritrade, June 2002. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52742
Two southern African MPs have launched a booklet entitled 'Beyond the Rhetoric...
Two southern African MPs have launched a booklet entitled 'Beyond the Rhetoric of Economic Partnership Agreements'. This has been published to coincide with the debate in the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly on the Cape Town Declaration. The booklet critiques the European Commission's current approach to the forthcoming ACP-EU negotiations. It highlights how, in southern Africa, ACP-EU trade preferences have stimulated a considerable expansion in exports of products where margins of preference are significant, slowing down the trade marginalisation of the region arising from declining prices of traditional exports. It questions whether economic partnership agreements (EPAs), as currently conceived, will provide effective support to the structural transformation of ACP economies. The authors call on the EU to ensure that no ACP country is left worse off in terms of access to the EU market as a result of any new trading arrangements. Indeed they want the EU to improve access for ACP exports to the EU market and suggest establishing closer consultations on how to ensure EU food safety without creating new obstacles to ACP exports. The authors question whether, in the light of past practices and experience, current EU arrangements for the management of aid are capable of addressing the many supply side constraints that inhibit internationally competitive production in ACP countries. They ask for a complete review as a prelude to the establishment of comprehensive programmes of assistance. The booklet notes that moves towards free trade with the EU will have an impact on government revenues in some ACP countries. The authors claim that the EU has a responsibility for assisting ACP countries given that its current proposals for economic partnership agreements will intensify the challenges faced. Future negotiations should therefore any reference to the effect of the EU's common agricultural policy on ACP economies. It calls for discussion of these issues, including how best to minimise the negative effects of the CAP, in the forthcoming negotiations. The authors highlight the importance of conducting future trade negotiations in an open, transparent and inclusive manner, so as to ensure that concerns about poverty eradication and sustainable development remain at the forefront of detailed trade negotiations. Comment: This booklet provides an alternative view of Commission proposals for fundamental change in ACP-EU trade relations. It raises important issues that are specific to the economic circumstances facing ACP countries and relates these to the wider evolution of the EU's trade and agricultural policies.