Stop EPAs Day 2008


'STOP EPAs' DAY  -   Activities in Africa and in Europe


Every year civil society conducts a campaign against Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), known as 'No EPAs Day".  Below is news of some of the activities in Africa and Europe.


On 29th September, civil society from across Africa, hundreds of Ghanaian farmers, Tanzanian trade unionists and other African civil society activists, staged a march in Accra, the Ghanaian capital.  This was to coincide with the arrival of government delegations for the Sixth African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit who were to discuss the EPAs. The protest was against the proposed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union. Demonstrators called on the governments of African countries to reject the EPAs. They marched peacefully carrying placards that read: "EPAs will kill our industries", "Do not lock Africa up in a dangerous trade regime" as they passed the Ministries of Trade, Agriculture and Finance to draw the attention of officials to their concerns. According to tomato and rice farmers in the Eastern and Central Regions, the signing of EPAs would lead to the total collapse of the agricultural sector which is the backbone of the economy. Mr Jacob Kpodo, a tomato farmer from Ada, said: "We ask governments to take a second look at the EPAs. We believe the deal is not in the interest of the country and pose a threat to the livelihoods of small scale farmers". Mr Amoak, a cooperative farmer, asked "How can we compete in the same market place as the EU? We are simply going to be swallowed up by the EU and you can imagine the implications for our livelihoods and those of our families".

On 30 Sept there was a public forum on EPAs and agriculture, services and investment rules, development and democracy, organised by the Third World Network. The aim of this meeting was to clarify the threats of the Interim EPAs that Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire initialled in December 2007 to farmers and to set out the next steps in joint campaigning.



Saturday 27 September 2008 marked the 6th year of the beginning of the EPA negotiations in Nigeria. Civil society  organisations that have led the campaign not to sign the EPAs, insisting that this agreement would further kill the nation's industries and promote poverty, used the opportunity to remind the Nigerian government of the grave implications that EPAs will have on the developing economy of Nigeria. They urged the Nigerian government to insist on an EPA that does not undermine the regional integration process and the development initiatives of Nigeria.


In Tanzania local fair trade activists joined the international "No EPAs Day" protests. They insisted that under the interim EPA signed between the European Commission and the East Africa Community last November in Kampala, Uganda, the Europeans want to continue the legacy of colonialism by confining EAC countries to be exporters of raw materials for the industries. ''We need to export processed or manufactured goods to the European market but under the EPA we are encouraged to stop charging taxes on exports especially on raw materials for industry,'' said Charles Domician from Tanzania Trade Experts Association.


To mark International 'Stop EPAs' Day, European campaigners, among them AEFJN Secretariat and the Belgian Antenna members, joined forces outside the European Parliament in Brussels on 23 September to urge MEPs to put pressure on the Commission to reopen negotiations on the EPA deals.

A number of European and Belgium Parliamentarians joined the demonstration where two masks represented Mandelson (EU commissioner of Trade) and Sarkozy (President of the EU). Kathini Maloba from the Kenyan Women's Workers Organisation (KWWO) outlined her concerns about the potential impacts of these trade deals particularly on women. Kathini called on the European Commissioner to listen, stating, "Africa needs to be able to develop its own policies in its own time- the EPA is a 'dish' that Africa needs to flavour to its own needs."

Belgian groups also took the opportunity to hand a petition with over 100,000 signatures to Alain Hutchinson MEP calling on MEPs to help stop these unfair trade deals. Earlier that morning,  European campaigners and Kathini Maloba from KWWO met with Socialist and Green MEPs, including Alain Hutchinson (Belgium), David Martin (UK), Caroline Lucas (UK), Arif Kader (France), Bert Staes (Belgium).


For the EPA week the Spanish STOP EPA platform organized a demonstration in front of the head office of the European Commission in Madrid under the slogan "Let's stop African recolonisation". The event was supported by the Antenna of AEFJN in Madrid and several organisations concerned with environment, development and trade unions.

In Barcelona there was a stunt involving 'Carla Bruni' asking 'Sarkozy' in song to stop the negotiations for FTAs with the ACP.






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