Africa is in trouble. Its
future is once again on the table, and it is Europe that holds the ace. The Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPAs) spearheaded from Brussels are the modern day
equivalent of the nineteenth century carve-up of Africa. At issue in Brussels is whether or not Africa can be allowed latitude to conduct trade,
industrial and development policies for her own development or for the benefit of
Europe. Only about 10 out of 47
Sub-Saharan African countries (SSA) have either signed or initialled EPAs so
far. Trade ministers of the affected regions—the African, Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP) group of countries as well as trade ministers from other African
countries as well as the African Union—have largely rejected the EPAs. Despite
all of this opposition, and reported public protests in twenty countries
against the raw deal, it seems all but certain to be rammed through. In private
whisperings, not many Africans or policymakers are happy with the deal but
there is a certain sense of helplessness.
Since 2002, the EU has been negotiating
the EPAs with the ACP countries as a fully reciprocal trade arrangement to
replace the previous non-reciprocal, preferential trade access of ACP countries
to EU markets under the various Lome Conventions and the Cotonou agreement. The
argument, according to the EU, is that such preferential access violated
Article XXIV of GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs), and that the WTO
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