Retired President Benjamin William Mkapa (pictured above) has argued Inter Action Council European members to press on their governments to ensure that the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) they are negotiating with African countries do not threaten the development aspirations of Africa.
Participating in the debate on the economic situation in the present state of the world in Manama, the Kingdom of Bahrain, President Mkapa said the European Union (EU) proposals seriously impede the development path of the African countries. In particular, they would lead to the de-industrialization, stop the value addition on their primary goods exports and deny them market success, while by insisting on removal of import tariffs and export taxes, deny government revenue for effective fair governance.
He pointed out that the EU – EPA proposals placed production risks for locally produced products at 51.3% in East African Community countries, 54.1% in ECOWAS countries and 80.5% in SADC countries.
Weighing gains against cost of signing the EPAs for Sub – Saharan African countries, he said under the most favoured nation clause (MFN), the countries would gain annually $ 946 million on average against costs of $ 3,385 million. In every instance he affirmed, the cost of EPA is higher than the benefit.
He told the Council that African countries had been given the deadline of January 2014 to sign. The underlining principle of this deadline and the proposals is the principle of equal undifferentiated responsibilities, and the imperative of reciprocity. Additionally, the EU has now come up with new issues for reciprocal action including; services, investment, intellectual property, labour and environment.
In the Final Communiqué, the Council asks: “The international community to recognize the centrality of the African Union on issues of African development and to encourage regional economic integration. Trade with investment is the most important factor to states seeking to reduce poverty and improve living standard of their people.”
“The IAC calls on entities negotiating new economic partnerships, such as the EU and other development partners, to ensure market access for African exports consistent with the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and promotion of an agreed post 2015 agenda”.
The InterAction Council (IAC) is an independent international organization comprising more than 30 former heads of state or government. It aims to foster international cooperation and action in areas of peace and security, revitalization of the world economy and the nexus of development, population and environment and universal ethics.
The Council is co- chaired by former Canadian Premier Jean Chretien and Dr. Franz Vranitzky, former Chancellor of Austria.