Thursday, August 28, 2008

Arsova urges LDCs not to sign EPAs

Arsova urges LDCs not to sign EPAs
By Kabanda Chulu in Accra, Ghana
Wednesday August 27, 2008 [04:00]

UK-based Christian Aid policy officer for Africa Tzvetelina Arsova has urged Zambia not to sign Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) because the country can still access European markets under the Everything But Arms treaty.

And Resistance and Alternatives of Mauritius representative Roody Muneean said there is need to analyse the entire concept of liberalisation because it will result in another scramble for Africa.

In an interview at the ongoing 11th Africa Trade Network review meeting on Monday, Arsova said least developed countries (LDCs) including Zambia enjoy special differential treatment that allows them to raise tariffs to unlimited levels.

She said it was puzzling to see Zambia showing indications of signing interim EPAs.
"LDCs have a special status and most of the decisions are not binding to them but if they sign EPAs, then things will change, if anything Zambia should not sign because she is an LDC, which can rely on the Everything But Arms system," Arsova said. "But of course, Zambia will be obliged to sign since it belongs to a grouping with members having various interests to follow, but also there need to have a strong regional resistance to EPAs."

Under the Everything But Arms system, LDCs were allowed quota free and to an extent duty free access to the European markets, but under EPAs the arrangement is different since the EU would want reciprocity arrangements to enter the markets of LDCs without paying duty and other taxes.

Arsova said remaining with the Everything But Arms system would allow Zambia to have a wider policy space to decide what to do with other trade agreements.
"But under EPAs, LDCs will be trapped and locked with the EU as the only trading partner," she said.

Arsova is based in the United Kingdom but has been supervising various Christian Aid programmes in Zambia for the past five years.

And Muneean said there was need to embark on stop EPA campaigns that should anchor on tangibles in order for people to embrace the messages.
"Liberalisation in its entirety must be questioned before Africa is divided into parts for exploitation of resources," said Muneean.



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