Gambia Social Forum condemns EU-EPA negotiations

The Point (Banjul) | Wednesday 28th February 2007

Gambia Social Forum Condemns EU-EPA Negotiations

By Baboucarr Senghore & Fatou Sanneh

Following their successful participation in the just concluded World Social Forum, the executive members of the Gambia Social Forum (GSF) have condemned the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that is being negotiated between the European Union and ECOWAS member states.

In a press release issued by the Gambia Social Forum, the executive members expressed their deep concern that these proposed free trade agreements would exacerbate the current agricultural crisis that farmers already face, increase poverty, and violate human rights.

According to the press release, although a partnership with the European Union is desirable, the basis of this current partnership neither ensures the protection of the rights of citizens of sovereign states, nor does it respect the provision set forth in the Cotonou agreement that no country should be worse off as a result of such a partnership.

“The argument that the new partnership with the European Union must be in compliance with the World Trade Organisation rules does not require that this partnership be based on reciprocity as there are other options that would not require reciprocity with the European Union”, the release states.

The release also states that regardless of the alternative that is favoured within the framework of an European Union ACP partnership, the minimum for such a partnership is to be beneficial and not leave any country worse off than it currently is.

Furthermore, the Gambia Social Forum calls for an agreement that will protect and enable the fulfillment of all human rights, based on the principle of non-reciprocity, as instituted in the general system of preferences and special and differential treatment in the World Trade Organisation; allow for the necessary policy space and support for African countries to pursue their development strategies, and reverse the pressure for trade investment liberalisation.

Given that the Economic Partnership Agreement does not take any of these concerns in consideration and does not meet the development needs of African countries, the Gambia Social forum reaffirmed the need for another partnership that is beneficial to both parties, and stands against an agreement based on such unfair principles.

The 7th edition of the World Social Forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20th-25 January 2007, and a strong delegation from various sectors represented the Gambia Social Forum.

source: The Point