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08.10.2008 Business & Finance

OATUU opposes EPA

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi - Ghanaian Chronicle

The controversy surrounding the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), between the European Union (EU) and the African-Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries, keeps on heightening as each day passes by.

While some countries believed that signing the EPA, would bring to end their suffering to enter the European markets without any difficulties, to earn foreign exchange to increase their national purses, others too believed that the agreement would worsen the difficulties their economies were facing, thereby subduing them to become servants to the developed world.

This issue, as many perceived, was dividing the economies of member countries under the ACP.

The just-ended ACP Summit in Accra, where leaders of the various counties and civil society organisations were clamouring for a boycott of the EPA, ended up in fruitless discussions, with member countries failing to agree on common grounds of what some of them had been agitating for.

The Organisation of African Trade Unions Unity (OATUU) has joined in the crusade against the signing of the EPA, stating several claims which it believed would cripple the economies of member countries, if they go ahead to sign the agreement.

The OATUU, according to a statement issued in Accra, and signed by its General Secretary, Hassan A. Sunmonu, said any genuine negotiations between the two entities (ACP/EU) should be based on equality of the negotiating partners.

It described the current negotiation, between the ACP and EU, as that between the donkey and rider, which it believed was not in the interest of the former.

“The tactics bordering on blackmail and corruption, that characterises the negotiation process of the EPA, makes the whole process unacceptable to the OATUU, and the African workers,” noted the statement.

The African Trade Union leaders argued that the EPA's were not negotiations between equal partners, and thus would have negative consequences on the economic integration of Africa and intra-African trade.

According to the leaders, the EPA's would have a negative impact on farmers, because it was going to squeeze out their livelihood, based on the import of heavily subsidised European agriculture products, that would flood African countries under the EPA's.

They were also of the belief that signing the EPA's, would result in substantial loss of income tax by African governments, thereby denying them of revenue for the socio-economic development of their countries, as well as expedite the destruction of African industries, leading to unprecedented loss of jobs and unemployment.

The Trade Union leaders therefore called on African leaders, to fast track the process of Africa's economic integration, rationalise the existing Regional Communities (REC) into 5, to conform to the 5 regions of Africa, and increase the volume of intra-Africa trade, from 10% to 40% within the next five years.