The anti-globalization movement was last week reduced to the status of barking at a caravan after it had passed as they tried to rubbish the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and ACP countries.
“EPAs have been a big concern to ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and we have managed to organize a congress in Vienna.
“The EPAs are going at a very, very fast pace and we believe that they are going to affect workers,’ ITUC said last week.
Isabelle Hoferlin, the ITUC person responsible for Africa and Latin American countries, said they have been taken by surprise by the EU’s aggressive stance regarding the EPAs negotiations.
“The unions have been trying to oppose globalization and what has taken us by surprise is how aggressive the EU has been,” she said, urging the developing countries not to initial the agreement and instead opt for Everything But Arms (EBA) principle.
EBA has some complication because it is a unilateral decision and has less tariff incentives as opposed to the EPAs.
EPA is a new trade regime aimed at encouraging regional integration, fostering development through capacity buildingÔÇödriven by China’s aggressive move into the resource rich countries of AfricaÔÇöduty free and tariff free but working in asymmetrical form.
Under the arrangement, ACP-EU final agreement should be signed off before the end of the year where EU will open its markets 100 percent for the developing countries while on the other hand the developing countries have until 2018 to do the same. If the developing countries do not guarantee at least 85 percent tariff reduction of the value of trade between them and the EU, they risk the wrath of the World Trade OrganisationÔÇöwhich will phase out the preferential treatment.
Further, she said the developing countries need to develop some laws which will safeguard the interest of the employees in an attempt to avoid massive job losses in the developing countries.
“I do not think that the developing countries have the capacity to compete with Europe. The 80 ÔÇô to – 90 opening in traded goods is not for the developing countries. They simply can not compete,” she added.
“How could Africa compete with agricultural goods from Europe, which are being subsidised? “she asked.
EU cow is being subsidized at a rate of US $ 2 per day while most of the people in Africa are leaving on below one US dollar per day.
“We are calling for the re-negotiation of EPAs interim agreement and we are also opposed to the stand still clause,” she said.
The stand still clause is an undertaking which has to be taken by the ACP countries that sectors which they intend to liberalise would not impose any laws that will inhibit the EU companies to enter the developing countries markets.
“The mandate that we see in the negotiation differs with what is on the Cotonou agreement but it is compliant with the WTO rules. And the other problem is that the negotiations are not conducted in a transparent manner,” Marc Maes of the coalition of European NGOs dubbed 11.11 said.