Dangers of WTO 10th Ministerial Conference: New Round + TTIP + TPP + EPA


There is much talk these days about TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Africans know very little about TTIP. Africans, on the other hand, have suffered a lot under EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements) for the last nearly thirty years, but few in Europe know about it. Why do people in Europe not know or care to know about EPAs? What is all this hoo-ha about TTIP, and why is it important for Africans to know about it?


A short answer is that, WTO MC10 is not only about economics. Economics are only the entry point to what essentially are matters of geo-economic-political power of the corporate capital. The WTO, TTIP, TPP, NAFTA, CETA and EPAs are contested sites in the struggle between the economic power of western countries and the people. Unlike the WTO, which is a multilateral trading system, TTIP is a bilateral trade and investments system between the US and Europe. Other bilaterals include the EPAs – Economic Partnership Agreements between Europe and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.


The TTIP and EPAs are opposed by a significant section of civil society in Europe. The opposition to TTIP boiled down, in essence, to three major objections - its secretiveness and lack of transparency and accountability; the threat of transnational corporate takeover of the economies of Europe; and the system of Investor State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) that put the judicial system outside national jurisdiction. 


Towards the end of 2014 it was announced that the governments of the East African Community had signed the EPA. Again, as with TTIP, it is a struggle between the people on one side and global corporate capital on the other. The EPA was signed under mounting pressure from big corporations. What made the position of the African governments precarious is their dependence on the so-called “development aid” from Europe. But while the big corporations push for the signing of the EPA, the poor farmers and the population suffer.


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