Monday, 13 October 2008

Pressure to sign up to EPAs mounts

An article entitled Defiant Guyana to be Punished published by Inter Press Service indicates that pressure is mounting on African States to sign up to EPAs (European Partnership Agreements) as Guyana faces up to the ramifications of not signing the trade agreement.

Quoting from the article:

"Last month, [Peter] Mandelson said there was "no question of confining any country (that declines to sign an EPA) to outer darkness."

"A document expected to be rubber-stamped by the EU's foreign ministers Oct. 13 suggests that Guyana will therefore no longer benefit from the favourable treatment scheme for its Europe-bound exports that has been in place since 1975. As a result, it would be subject to higher tariffs on its exports of rice, rum and seafood. "

"Some African governments are worried that the action taken against Guyana could lead to similar action being taken against them if they do not sign EPAs. An African diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the EU move as "completely unacceptable", suggesting that it ran counter to assurances given by the Union earlier this year that it would display flexibility towards ACP countries which express particular concerns about the content of the proposed accords."

"Dalindyebo Shabalala from the Centre for International Environmental Law in Geneva branded the intellectual property provisions in the EPA as "extremely troubling." In a recent paper, he stated that these clauses are not designed to help the Caribbean develop in a way that benefits its societies and avoids ecological harm but to advance the EU's own "mercantilist interests". It is "astonishing", he said, that the EU is using this agreement to try to enforce rules originally intended for wealthy countries in poorer ones"

For more from Afro-IP on the EPA debate click here.

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