1402 West African Civil Society Declaration on EPA Signing

The negotiation on the Economic Partnership Agreement between West African Countries (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) seems to have reached an agreement. After the negotiating session in Dakar (Senegal) last January, both parties completed the technical discussions and are ready to sign this Agreement. The negotiation has lastedmore than a decade and during this time civil society has tried to prevent this agreement due to the disadvantages that it will have for West African countries and their population.


West African Civil Society has raised its voice to denounce this agreement because through it the EU can extend its market toward developing countries, prioritising market liberalization over the future of African people. While the concession of the EU to African countries has been to liberalise 75% of trade over 20 years, rather than the 80% over 15 years that Brussels originally wanted, countries like Ghana will have to waiver important products such as textiles, aluminium, insecticides, cement, soap and detergents, wire, metals, and pharmaceuticals, which are crucial for its industrial development.


ECOWAS Negotiators have sacrificed their national and regional markets for European goods, which is likely to lead to the demise of domestic manufacturing with the loss of thousands of factories, jobs and most of all the prospects of industrialisation and developmental transformation of the economies of West Africa. Moreover, the region has accepted € 6.5 billion to implement its projects and programs when the cost was estimated at € 9.5 billion. The EU will give this money through the European Development Fund which in the past was not accessible to many African countries as they did not comply with the requirements imposed by the EU.


By signing this agreement, African countries renounce tariffs and export taxes which are essential for the Government’s budget to pay for social policies like the health and education. West African Civil Society also considers that this new agreement brings with it economic restrictions that distort the capacity to design their own trade and development policies. It will affect regional trade with other African Regions, which in turn prevents the development of African industry. All these concessions of the West African countries will have negative impacts on African economies, the livelihoods and lives of citizens of West Africa.


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