Uganda: Don’t sign deal with EU, MPs tell government

The New Vision (Kampala)

Don’t sign deal with EU, MPs tell government

Wednesday, 7th March, 2007

By John Odyek and Francis Emorut

MPS and international trade specialists have asked the Government, not to sign the new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), with the European Union because it would harm the economy.

EPAs are new trade agreements being negotiated by the European Union to regulate its trade with the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

EPAs aim to replace the existing trade arrangements between EU and the ACP by December, 31.

Elly Twineyo, the executive director of the African Centre for Trade and Development (ACTADE), argued that an extension by three years was needed to negotiate the EPAs.

“We should not sign an agreement that will kill our economy. Let us not sign at all if time is extended,” he said.

Twineyo was speaking during a workshop at Hotel Equatoria in Kampala last week.

The ACTADE-organised workshop was held under the theme “The Future of the EU-Uganda Trade Relations under the Economic Partnership Agreement.”

The fears for Uganda signing EPAs were related to, decline in industrialisation due to cheap imported goods, loss of employment, loss of cheap generic medicines for HIV/AIDs and malaria, loss of government revenues and loss of preferential market access to EU, Twineyo said.

MP Christine Baku (Arua) noted that by signing EPAs, the country would open up to strong economic players who would take advantage of it.

“Why would we sign agreements that we would not manage just to appear politically international good looking? Why do you marry a man you cannot manage or marry a woman you cannot manage?” Baku asked.

Achia Remigio (Pian) said Uganda was still exporting unprocessed products yet “we have liberalised the economy.

“The yield so far from exports under liberalisation is still very little.”

He advised MPs to move a motion, asking the Executive not to sign EPAs to enable Ugandans first debate it.

However, Cyprian Batala, the assistant trade commissioner, was convinced that signing the agreements was the best option.
and efforts pooled to that direction.
and when it should be done.

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source: New Vision