AEFJN Factsheet EPAs

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_1_Icons/AEFJN photo logo final.jpgEconomic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade agreements that are being negotiated between the European Union and Africa. The rules contained in EPAs like all the rules governing current international trade and trade agreements are made by the rich countries in the West, while poor countries in Africa have them imposed upon them. In many African countries the international trade system has taken away the livelihood of the people and communities and is impoverishing them.

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1701 Particularities of the ECOWAS–EU Economic Partnership Agreement

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The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the West African region and the European Union (EU) has its legal framework in Cotonou Agreement (2000) to make it compatible with the guidelines given by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO sought to standardize trade agreements at the global level and called for the repeal of any kind of unilateral preferences. At first glance, what may seem entirely logical, however, ignores the reality of developing countries, the abuse of power by economic powers, and a hidden agenda of Western countries to preserve their control over such countries by maintaining structures of dependence. In the case of the West African region (ECOWAS) these circumstances have been a constant over the last few years and the EU has pressured West Africa to accept these agreements, underestimating the warnings from experts from both continents that it will destroy the emerging industry in West Africa that will not be able to compete with European products.  


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1611-12 Trade Liberalisation and Non-Trade Barriers

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/supermercado02.jpgSince the financial crisis of 2007, the economies of the European Union (EU) have suffered stagnation in production growth. Confronted with stagnation in domestic consumption, exports do not seem to be helping the EU to emerge from the economic crisis either. Thus, the euro area net exports are expected to remain a drag on growth in 2016 before turning neutral in 2017. The EU promotes Free Trade Agreements emphasizing the benefits of reducing tariffs in international trade to boost economies. However, international trade is not only conditioned by tariffs barriers. The Free Trade Agreements are submitted to many other complex Non-tariffs barriers (NTBs) that restrict imports and exports according to national and regional regulations. Non-Tariffs Barriers are a jigsaw of measures related to direct or indirect economic policies. Although the NTBs are not only tax measures, they increase the final cost of goods and services.  


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1610 What about a proper debate on the CFA Franc?

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Le Monde, Mediapart, the Echoes … Rarely has the French press been so preoccupied with the issue of the CFA franc, the currency used by fourteen countries in West and Central Africa, pegged to the euro at a fixed parity and partly managed from Paris by the French Treasury. Firstly, it is surprised that France is the only country in the world to still have some control over the currency of its former colonies, fifty-five years after their independence. Secondly, the press does not hesitate to criticize the strangeness of the content of the agreements governing the operation of this anachronistic monetary system.  


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1607 Turmoil in the EPA Negotiations

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/Turbulencias EPAS Economia Hestia.gifThe EU is maintaining pressure on African countries to make progress in the EPA negotiations despite the resistance of some African governments and civil society. Discrepancies in the negotiations are leading to fragmentation among both regions and countries in Africa and this is compromising efforts towards regional integration in Africa. The most recent and surprising announcement comes from the East African Community (EAC) where the Foreign Affairs permanent secretary of Tanzania announced that his country had decided to halt the signing of EPAs scheduled for July 18th 2016. The EU is making use of its economic power to push African countries to ratify and implement agreements which have not been ratified by their parliaments and that have only been signed very recently. AEFJN has reiterated, along with many other civil society organizations, that the liberalisation of trade with Africa will have harmful consequences and accentuate inequality and poverty.


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tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/1604 CLES POUR UNE CROISSANCE ECONOMIQUE DURABLE EN AFRIQUE.jpgGiven the new stage that comes with the UN-approved Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Economic Partnership Agreements should be negotiated and implemented with SDGs in mind. Among other aims, these SDGs look to eradicate extreme poverty, combat inequality and injustice, promote gender equality and preserve the environment. However, the technical negotiations of the EPAs seem to be concerned more about the growth of trade than about the people whom these agreements are intended to serve. Economic growth is not good in itself and cannot be the goal. Economic growth without limits leads to a model of unbridled consumption that causes irreparable damage to the population and the environment, especially in Africa. Therefore, I believe that to achieve sustainable economic growth, the EPAs should be inspired by the common good of the people and each particular measure should address human development while fully respecting the environment.


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tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/sustainable-development FOR WHOM.jpgThe Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an ambitious agenda of the United Nations to develop 17 goals aimed at poverty reduction and building a better world for all. The SDGs will try to end hunger, achieve gender equality, improve health services and ensure all children attend school all over the world. The SDGs make a link between human and economic development and propose a per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances. The economic development must undertake comprehensive social and environmental measures establishing co-responsibility among all the stakeholders involved in trade agreements. To ensure real progress in the sustainability of the economy, both developed and developing countries must assure the correct implementation of legally binding sustainable regulations.  


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1601 MC10, the Stubbornness of Developed Economies

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The 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was held in Nairobi (Kenya) in December 2015. It was the first time the Ministerial Conference had met in an African country. This fact had raised many expectations among Least Developed Countries (LDC). However, the expectation fell into disillusion because of the lack of scope of the final resolution, the so-called “Nairobi Package". Despite few agreements being reached during the MC10, this meeting allowed discussion of major issues such as the search for consensus on the continuation of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) as well as new guidelines for determining ‘Rules of Origin’ and LDC issues, the ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the adoption of the Information Technology Agreement. It could be said that the issues of the “Nairobi Package” had limited relevance for African countries.


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2015 AEFJN & Jesuit Hakimani Centre: The Impacts of EPA on Kenya

Before the study on EPA was conducted, the AEFJN had held that the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) have more serious repercussions than the good they promise to bring to Africa in their present form. This study confirms our position. The EU maintains that the EPAs “are tailor-made” to suit specific regional circumstances of Africa, and that they go beyond conventional free-trade agreements focusing on the development of ACP. This sounds plausible but does not say it all! Africa must be allowed to foster her development objectives and the strategies for realizing them in the light of global trends. Only then will she be able to enter into profitable EPAs with the EU.  If Africa has no policy space to define her development objectives, the EPAs will impede her growth!


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1412 The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the consequences for Africa

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/TTIP and Consequences for Africa.jpgThe Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated – in secret – between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US). The TTIP promotes deregulation of the global economy and prioritizes the interests of the Transnational Corporations (TNC), keeping aside the needs of the population and the necessary measures to assure sustainable development. The TTIP is a complex agreement and the consequences for Africa are not so evident at first sight. The developing economies in African countries and elsewhere would have to adapt to new rules that only benefit the TNC and are to the detriment of the population. The creation of the biggest world Free Trade Area would disrupt the economies in Africa that, unable to compete with more efficient ways of production, would lose their share of the EU and US markets. The people of Africa will have to accept an economic model that is appropriate for developed countries, but not for subsistence economies.


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Cutting Export Subsidies: an Unfulfilled Promise?

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/1407 Export-subsidies 1407.jpgRecently, the EU proposed putting a stop to export refunds on all the EU agricultural goods imported by African countries but this offer was conditional to signing the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA). However, this is not a new concession because the EU had already committed itself to cut export subsidies. With this kind of concession, the EU intends to push African countries to accept the iEPAs. Moreover, we could ask to what extent this measure is enough to curb distortions in the market affecting African countries since producers in the EU receive other economic supports like direct payments to improve their competitiveness. This economic support boosts the EU exports of surpluses at prices below the cost of production, condemning farmers in African countries to poverty because they cannot compete on price. So, if African countries sign the iEPA, then only African countries will be making effective concessions because they will lose the chance of applying tariffs to the products coming from the EU.


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The “Bali Package” and Africa

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/Trade Facilitation Measures.jpgThe 9th WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Bali last December and the result of this meeting was a number of legally-binding measures called the “Bali Package” that will impact on African economies and populations. The “Bali package” took into account the ambitions of developed countries while the aspirations of developing countries were postponed for future meetings. It showed the lack of political will to advance on matters that are good for the people and how developed countries are more interested in imposing their economic interests than committing themselves to reducing poverty. Foreign and large companies will have strong influence over customs controls of African countries which means a threat to their national sovereignty; not only will the control of their borders have to be renounced, but also the revenues that are needed for the implementation of social policies such education and health.


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Africa’s Hope and New Forms of International Trade

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/Hope for Trade.jpgCurrently, trade agreements between Africa and Europe are conditioned by neoliberal economic policies which give little space for fairer economic growth in Africa. Europe imposes its economic and political models on the African regions and calls for free trade in goods, services and investments. The Alternative Trade Mandate (ATM) proposes a different trade policy that increases economic, social and environmental well-being and creates justice between countries.

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Differences and the Difficulties on EPA Negotiations

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Currently, there are five Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) negotiations between the EU and African regions. The EU tries to negotiate with African countries as if both parties had the same living conditions and their economies had the same level of development. But the reality is quite different. The expectations envisage economic growth for European companies while African States may need additional resources because of declining revenues caused by EPAs.

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Challenges facing Africa in the implementation of EPAs

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/EPA March.jpgThe EU is currently pressing African governments to proceed with interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPAs). However, there is resistance from African countries because they consider there are still some contentious issues to be re-addressed, like reciprocity, trade in services, tariffs and agricultural subsidies. 

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South Africa Interference in Kenya-EU Trade Relations

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/rl_continenture596.jpgThe economic partnership negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Kenya are ongoing through a difficult moment. It is not just a problem of a bilateral agreement between the EU and Kenya but a problem of unfair competition by South Africa. The EU thinks South Africa would be avoiding the restrictions to export some products into the EU through the Kenyan market.

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EPAs and the Economic Impact on African Countries

African governments are experiencing fresh EU pressure to sign an economic partnership agreement. One of the most contentious points that highlights how unjust the EPAs will be for Africa, is the question of tariff elimination. It will become in the short term a real threat to the economies of the poorest countries. African countries need to preserve their sustainable sources of income to keep on the path to economic development.

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EPAs pose a threat to food sovereignty

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/agriculture_cameroun.jpgThe number of undernourished people in Africa increased from 165 million in 1990 to 209 million in 2006. Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) risk to worsen the situation. The threats are related to the inability of domestic production in Africa to compete with EU agricultural imports, the potential restrictions on African governments to address import surges that could undermine local food production, and the limitations on the freedom of ACP countries to use tariff policy and market regulation more generally to promote the domestic supply of staple foods.

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European Commission wants to force ACP countries to sign EPAs

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/Foto0452.jpgIn the last year, EPA negotiations had largely come to a standstill: only a few negotiation rounds took place and they produced no significant outcome. Frustrated with this lack of progress in the negotiations, the EU has decided to step up the pressure on the ACP countries. The European Commission adopted a proposal amending Regulation 1528/2007 governing the market access of 36 ACP countries to the EU. The proposal for amendment provides that, unless the 36 countries listed in the Annex ratify and implement EPAs by January 2014, they will be taken off the list. This means that they will lose the duty/quota free access of their goods to the European market.

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Western Cotton subsidies endanger African Farmers

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/cotton.jpgMany least developed countries are dependent on cotton for rural livelihoods and export revenue. These countries produce cotton more cheaply than anywhere else. However, the subsidies paid to their producers by the US and the EU, as well as China and India, have fatally undermined their ability to trade their way out of poverty. The cotton initiative offensive aims to put the demands of the C-4 group of West African cotton-producing countries for cotton sector reform back at the top of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) agenda.

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EPAs and the European Raw Materials Initiative

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/EPAs-exposed_web.thumbnail.jpgThe EU and its member states are increasingly worried about securing access to raw materials for European companies. Therefore the EU wants to improve the security of supply through multilateral trade agreements at World Trade Organisation (WTO) level and bilateral trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The objective is to use these trade agreements to remove obstacles - like export restrictions or limits on investments - which hinder Europe's access to raw materials in third countries.

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EPAs in Services no good for Africa, says World Bank

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/World Bank logo.JPGAccording to the wishes of the European Commission, full and final Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) should include an agreement on trade in services. The World Bank has released a study on the inclusion of services in EPAs. The study shows clearly that EPAs in services are not in the interest of Africans.

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EPA Briefing Paper EU-AU Summit November 2010

SMA JPIC Ireland Brief on Africa and Debt

The Relationship between Trade and Health

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/Medicines-5.pngTrade policies impact on peoples' right to health in several ways. In particular, when we look at the relationship between Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) being currently negotiated by the European Union and the right to health, we have to look into four broad areas: impact on government revenue, liberalization of the health sector, trade in health and health related services, stronger intellectual property rights.

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Critical Issues in EPAs

AEFJN studies on EPAs

tl_files/aefjn-images/aa/AEFJN photo logo final.jpgThe Impact of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in Zambia. AEFJN Questionnaire on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). L'impact de la libéralisation sur les agriculteurs de l'Afrique Occidentale (CEDEAO) et les Accords de Partenariat Economique (APE).


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Monitoring and benchmarking EPAs

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The signing of EPAs does not mean that there is nothing to say or do about EPAs any more. In fact there is a lot to do for

civil society and NGOs like AEFJN once the implementation of the EPA agreements has begun. Civil society has an important role to play in monitoring and benchmarking EPAs. The objective of monitoring and benchmarking is to verify if EPAs meet the objectives which were set for them. In other words we are asking what EPAs have brought to the Africans.

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EPAs and Gender

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/african women.jpgThe Cotonou Agreement, which is the legal basis for the EPA negotiations makes an explicit commitment to gender equality, but hitherto gender issues have not received any specific attention in EPA negotiations between the European Commission and the ACP countries. Neither side has deemed it necessary to dedicate specific attention to gender issues.

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