ACCRA, Ghana—17 Dec, 2004—A five-member delegation from the Accra-based advocacy organisation, Third World Network-Africa, have arrived from the African Social Forum in Zambia, where they launched, under the umbrella of the continent-wide African Trade Network, a campaign against the “Economic Partnership Agreements” or EPAs.
Speaking in an interview to Accra-based radio station CITI-FM 97.3 this morning, Mr.Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Head of Communications at TWN-Af, argued that these EPAs ought to matter to the ordinary people, because they have “far-reaching consequences…that affect everybody.” He continued that “what we have in our hands is something that will regulate our lives from morning till morning.”
Responding to questions as to whether TWN-Af was advocating protectionist policies, he insisted that it was not the nature of trade itself that was in question, but people had to recognise that “Africa and Europe have traded for five hundred years, and everytime we have lost. Why is that we, the continent that produces everything that people want to survive, are the poorest?”.
The EPA negotiations will, in essence, be locking African countries into a position that they cannot get out of under the multilateral framework of the WTO. For this reason, it was important, Gyan-Apenteng maintained, for people to understand that “the nature of these negotiations are such that whatever will be agreed will become permanent…and entrenched”.
He added that “trade between the elephant and the ant, and the inequality built in there, will not be good for us.”
The StopEPA is civil society initiative targetted at stopping African countries from entering into free-trade agreements with the European Union. Civil society groups fear that the EPAs, which are mandated under the Cotonou Agreement will lock African economies into a multilateral framework under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which is the same position African countries are resisting at the WTO