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02.10.2008 General News

Civil Societies Advise ACP Heads

By ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)

The African Trade Network in partnership with the African Regional Organisation of the International Trades Union Confederation, (ITUC- Africa), Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Ghana Federation of Labour, have called on heads of states attending the on-going African, Caribbean and Pacific States, Summit in Accra to reclaim the destiny and sovereignty of their countries by taking a collective decision on the Economic Partner Agreements (EPA's).

According to these civil society organisations the 'Heads of states should renounce all interim and comprehensive EPA's as well as resolve to negotiate and agree on a non-reciprocal good EPAs with the European Union (EU) as the Government of Guyana has suggested.'

This was made known by the former Secretary- General of the TUC, Mr Adu Amankwa, at a press conference held in Accra.

Mr Adu Amankwa noted that the proposal to have a free trade agreement between the EU and countries of the ACP is not acceptable given the huge developmental gap between the two parties adding that 'a reciprocal market access that obliges poor countries of ACP to remove over time, customs duties on some 80 per cent of all goods emanating from the EU is absurd'

He underscored the fact that such radical liberation will exacerbate the influx of wide range of goods that will depress the ACP market and undermine industrial and agricultural production as well as weaken the ability of the ACP states to invest in social services that benefit the poor.

The former Secretary- General pointed out that 'the trade union movement and the NGO community in Africa deplores the attitude adopted by the European Commission throughout the negotiations' adding that 'the willingness of the Commission to abandon the regional framework and in the process sign or initiate EPAs with individual countries clearly shows how ACP states.'

He also noted that the attempts by the European Commission to cast all critical voices represented by civil society particularly of the EPAs as disgruntled underscored the desperation of the Commission and clearly undermines the spirit of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that calls for the involvement of non-state actors.

He promised that the trade union movements and all civil society organisations will continue to engage all stakeholders to find the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a compatible alternative to the EPAs.

In a statement the Programme Officer in charge of Political Economy Unity of the Third World Network -Africa, Mr Gyekye Tanoh, also called on the heads of states to have a second look at the EPA before coming to a conclusion.