The EU is currently negotiating trade deals with 76 former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The deals are called 'Economic Partnership Agreements' – or EPAs for short.
35 countries have signed ‘interim’ EPAs covering trade in goods, but others like Senegal and South Africa refuse to sign.
The trouble with EPAs is that they could be disastrous for ACP countries.
Rather than helping 76 poor countries trade out of poverty, EPAs threaten to cause more poverty and hunger.
Why are we worried?
EPAs are skewed in favour of rich countries and threaten to leave 750 million poor people worse off than ever. We are concerned that unless EPAs are radically reformed, the impact in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will be:
- job losses, government revenue losses and cuts in public services as developing countries are forced to open up their markets to the EU before they are ready
- corporate domination as African, Caribbean and Pacific governments’ ability to regulate big business is restricted
- weakened democracy as governments will be prevented from choosing their own development strategies.
UK campaigners sent over 100,000 messages to the UK government calling for a halt to EPAs – echoing campaigns in over 30 ACP and EU countries.
The UK government has raised concerns about EPAs at the EU but the Government could to do more to stop EPAs and ensure the EU comes up with alternative trade deals.
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photo : ©Gideon Mendel/ Corbis/ ActionAid UK