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 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! TIME TO ABANDON THE E.P.A. CHARADE!!

(STATEMENT OF GLOBAL EPA STRATEGY MEETING, HARARE)

WE, organisations of civil society from Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe campaigning on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe from 8-9 October, 2013, to review the EPA negotiations and the campaigns, denounce the continued pursuit of the EPAs.  The actual make-up and provisions of the agreements so far concluded have shown that the EPAs are incapable of delivering their proclaimed developmental promises, affirming only their damaging implications for ACP economies.  In addition, their pursuit have now become a fruitless diversion of energy from the economic developmental tasks confronting ACP countries, tasks which have become even more urgent in the light of the momentous changes in the global environment and economic order since the start of the negotiations.

We therefore demand the abandonment of the EPA processes — i.e. negotiations, ratifications and/or implementations.  Instead, ACP governments must re-focus on a trade and investment policy framework which is consistent with their own emerging initiatives and fundamental developmental needs in these changing times, and which should act as a guide to subsequent interaction between Europe and ACP governments.  European governments must adopt (transitional) trade measure to facilitate this.

It is now over ten years since the EPA negotiations were launched.  In that time, only the Caribbean region has managed to conclude their negotiations in full.  However, the resulting EPA has not lived up to its developmental expectations.  Instead, the anticipated benefits for Caribbean people have been frustrated by procedural small-print buried in the agreement as well as practical obstacles in Europe; more costly institutional burdens than anticipated; and the failure of legitimately expected EU financial support to materialise.  On the other hand, the EPA threats to Caribbean economies remain unmitigated.

An additional handful of other countries in Africa have concluded interim EPAs with the EU.  These are fraught with contentious provisions which have impeded further movement.  And the EU has resorted to the extreme measure of withdrawing market access offers from countries which do not take necessary steps towards ratification of the concluded interim agreements.

The remaining majority of countries (in Africa) have yet to conclude any agreement with the EU. Some have lost any interest and no longer participate, others are trying to negotiate regional EPAs that could replace the interim EPAs.  Here again negotiations are stuck in acrimonious dead-lock over fundamental issues, with no fair and equitable resolution in sight.

The prospects of regional integration, a supposed aim of the EPAs, have been damaged even further.  In Africa, contentious negotiations and partial agreements have pitted neighbouring countries against each other; and existing groupings and mechanisms of regional integration are being distorted into facilitating European interests in Africa.  Similarly, in the Caribbean, where a comprehensive EPA has been concluded, the fractious implementation process has put common regional relations in further jeopardy.

In the meantime, the global economic and political situation has changed dramatically since the negotiations were launched, and all parties to the negotiations are faced with economic challenges not anticipated before.

CALL TO ACTION AGAINST EUROPE’S AGGRESSIVE ECONOMIC AGENDA IN AFRICA

Declaration of civil society organisations at the meeting of the Africa Trade Network, Cape Town, South Africa

22nd February 2008

We, civil society organisations, including farmers, workers, women’s, faith-based and students’ groups and organisations, call on our people to redouble their efforts to stop the self-serving free trade agreements, misleading designated as ‘Economic Partnership Agreements’ that Europe seeks to impose on African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, and which will destroy the economies of these countries.a

At our meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 20-23 February 2008, under the umbrella of the Africa Trade Network, to review the latest developments in the EPA negotiations, we reaffirm our unequivocal opposition these agreements

When the EPA negotiations were launched, civil society organisations from all over Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe warned that the EPAs were profoundly anti-developmental. We pointed out that the EPAs posed a threat not only specifically to government revenue, local producers and industries, food sovereignty, essential public services, and the regional integration of African countries; but also to the right and capacity in general of African countries to develop their economies according to the needs of their people and their own national, regional and continental priorities.  

The latest developments in these negotiations have exposed even more sharply the fundamental outrage represented by the EPAs.  

At the end of 2007, Europe deployed manipulative and heavy-handed tactics in an attempt to force African governments into so-called ‘interim’ agreements. When it became clear that no African regional bloc would agree to its demands, the European Commission, with the active support of its member ……

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