Civil society organisations condemn approval of EPAs by ECOWAS leaders
The Economic Justice Network of Ghana (EJN), has 'unequivocally' condemned, the decision of the West African leaders to approve the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
"This decision, taken at 45 th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on July 10 2014 in Accra, runs counter to the long standing views and positions expressed by several groups of stake-holders and ordinary citizens and corroborated by institutions of high repute such as the United Nations and the African Union", EJN said in a press statement.
The EJN is a coalition of civil society organisations which draws its membership from a wide range of non-state actors including trade unions, farmers' associations, workers in the manufacturing and service sectors, professional groups, and women's rights and equality organisations as well as faith-based organisations, student and youth groups, and NGOs.
According to EJN, judging by the terms and provisions in the text approved by the Heads of State last Thursday, the EPA agreement will lead to the collapse of the domestic manufacturing and other productive sectors since it presents undue pressure from the subsidized goods from Europe and loss of revenue from trade taxes.
"The agreement also commits the Sub-region to have developed, within 6 months of its adoption, a road map and modalities for an agenda of further liberalisation and deregulation of a whole range of areas – such as Services, Investment, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property and even other areas that have never been part of the EPA negotiating agenda, such as Capital Accounts, none of which are required by any international rule or obligation undertaken by the government", the network of civil societies stated in the release.
The cumulative effect of all these, according to EJN, will be to take away ability of West African governments to deploy the range of policy instruments that are critically needed for development in our Region.
"Furthermore the agreement subjects the dynamics of West Africa's internal regional trade and development, as well as its relationship with the other regions of Africa and the South to the imperatives of its dealing with the European Union. It is sad for the West African leader to make mockery of our own regional integration agenda by this decision", EJN said.
The group goes on to add that, "all these negative consequences inflicted on West Africa are in return for a paltry aid promised by the European Union, as well as an attempt to save a few groups of exporters, when indeed credible alternatives exist which could have addressed the concerns and needs of all stake-holders.
"This agreement cannot be accepted by the ordinary men and women of this country who struggle daily in the midst of the precarious economic situation. Citizens should call upon their elected representatives in Parliament to demonstrate due leadership when this inimical agreement is presented to Parliament for ratification".