Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tanzania accuses EU of disintegrating ACP

07.10.08 - http://www.thisday.co.tz/News/4662.html

By fragmenting them into several regional blocs

LAST week Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda attended an African Caribbean and Pacific countries summit held in Accra, Ghana to represent President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete who was in New York attending the UN General Assembly.

In their statement at the end of the 6th summit of ACP heads of state and government, the leaders of 79 countries accused the European Union through its executive arm, the European Commission, of pushing them to sign the controversial free trade pacts while applying the colonial divide and rule tactics.

The EU which has maintained colonial model ties with the ACP bloc since 1975 when the first Lome Convention was signed in the Togolese capital, is pushing the group of poor countries to sign the controversial trade pacts called economic partnership agreements.

The EU, which is negotiating the EPAs through the EC, has argued that the controve! rsial trade pacts are important to help integrate the tiny ACP bloc economies into the global market whose rules are supervised by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In his speech at the summit, Mr Pinda accused the EU of disintegrating ACP countries by fragmenting them into several regional blocs including the recently carved, East African Community (EAC) bloc to which Tanzania belongs.

A faulty and highly controversial framework agreement on EPA was signed between the EC and the EAC bloc in Kampala, Uganda last year. Among other sensitive issues included in the framework agreement are those which have been stalled at WTO since 2001 when the then Minister for Trade and Industry, Idd Mohammed Simba led a group of 40 poor countries to block an attempt by rich countries led by the United States and Europe to push for a global free trade.

Under the controversial FAEPA, the EC is pushing EAC countries to open up their markets by removing tariffs in a trade reciprocity mod! el which will mean that other developed countries like the US and Japan will have to get the same access to our domestic markets to comply with WTO rules on non- discrimination among its 140 members.
Such a move will deplete government revenue, suffocate and ultimately eliminate our infant industries while turning this country into a net aid recipient. After over two and a half decades of working with the so-called donors, most Tanzanians now know why this country’s first President the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere meant by refusing to work with them if given conditions.

Currently, the so-called donors who include the EU wield a lot of powers in the decision making process of this country, often outdoing the majority taxpayers who pay over 60 per cent of the annual budget compared to less than 40 per cent by the donors.

What the EU wants to do now through EPAs is to make sure that over 50 per cent of the budget is financed by donations while the domestic mar! ket is flooded with heavily subsidized European, American and Japanese goods which will come in duty free as per applicable WTO rules.

The Europeans who are behind stalled WTO negotiations of having a new round of global trade due to their selfish positions with the Americans (the US) to continue subsidizing their inefficient agriculture sector, have included a clause in FAEPA where they want an endorsement of the subs by ACP countries which may mean that over 100 WTO members belonging to the ACP-EU bloc, have approved such treacherous incentives.

The Europeans also want transparency in government procurement; trade in services, investment guarantees to be discussed through FAEPA before July next year when a comprehensive EPA agreement will be signed with the EAC.

Brussels argues that EPAs are not exploitative colonial model trade pacts but development tools which will help fight poverty, preserve the environment and integrate our tiny economies into the global economy.! The irony is the EC has also included a clause in FAEPA which wants EAC countries not to charge duty on raw material exports which their industries need while proposing the end products to come in duty free and this will help end poverty!

The way forward for ACP countries is to abandon this fraudulent and corrupted process of negotiating EPAs and resort to a more democratic and fairly organized WTO process where there are no threats and intimidation.