Nelly Bassily | May 4, 2009
As many of you know, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are a successor to the Lomé Convention – an aid and trade deal signed by 71 ACP countries and Europe in 1975. The Lomé Convention allowed ACP countries duty-free access to European markets, except for a select number of agricultural products, such as sugar and beef, which competed with European producers. But in 2000, the Cotonou Agreement established a framework for EPAs between the EU and individual countries, which were to take effect in 2008. EPAs would open ACP country markets to European products.http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/bilateral/regions/acp/regneg_en.htm
Many African civil society organizations have voiced major concerns about EPAs and the principle of free trade between Africa and Europe that EPAs promote. In December, the Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest and the government of Mauritania declared that they would not meet the December 31, 2007 deadline, but would negotiate with the European Union over the next 18 months for a “real instrument for growth and development.” Meanwhile, a number of eastern and southern African countries, as well as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, chose to sign interim EPAs, with special provisions to protect certain products from European competition.To learn the status of EPA negotiations in your country (or another country of interest), go to:
The following questions may guide you in your research of the situation in your own country and broadcast area:
-If your government has signed an agreement, which local products were given special protection and what does that protection entail? Which local products are vulnerable to European competition?
-If not, what are the repercussions for local producers who export to Europe? Does your government plan to negotiate a deal with Europe?
-Are local farmers’ associations or other civil society action groups active in encouraging the government to reject EPAs? What concerns do they have with the EPAs? What action have they taken?
-What are individual farmers and farmers’ associations doing to cope with the changing trade environment?
The following are links to past FRW stories on EPAs:
– Ghana: Farmers say EPAs would destroy livelihoods (FRW#39, October 2008)
–Senegal: Farmers fear Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe threaten their livelihoods (FRW#6, January 2008)