Friday, 13 July 2007

EPAs should be consistent with citizens needs and Africa's long term development priorities, says ActionAid

African governments should resist imposed deadlines to provide alternatives. ActionAid is urging African governments to seek alternatives that will enable them to continue to sell some of their products to the European market and not rush into signing Economic Partnership Agreement that pit small scale farmers and infant African industries against the well established and subsidised products and services from Europe. An advanced generalised system of preferences that includes both least developing and non least developing countries should be pursued. "This provides space for African countries to determine on their own when to open their markets and which products to protect from unfair competition based on competitiveness and long term development needs of the region," Moussa Faye, Country Director of ActionAid in Senegal says.

The livelihood of small scale farmers and producers will be ruined by the massive influx of subsidised EU agricultural goods if EPAs were signed in the current form. "This will further undermine family and community based food security and reduce the wealthy and naturally endowed continent to dependency on food imports," Brian Kagoro, Africa Policy Manager for ActionAid says. "It will also aid the extractive operations of trans-national corporations in mining and agriculture, alienating African people from their own resources," Brian laments. But while pursuing protectionist measures against EPAs the countries should focus on the bigger challenge of building local economies to strengthen inter-Africa trade and economic growth. "Being in the drivers seat of their own development agenda will make Africa to dictate the terms of partnership with the north and not merely respond to an agenda whose primary beneficiary is Europe," Brian says.

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