Africa and the EU struggle to free trade agreements


The G20 is looking for new Ways of cooperation with Africa. The European Union has already concluded free trade agreements with some African countries. However, are controversial.

South African trade unionists during a Demonstration against European cheap poultry in February

To clear the words of Tanzania’s head of state, John Magufuli is embarrassed rarely. Also on the subject of economic partnership agreements: “For me, this is a Form of colonialism,” he said, already at the end of February. “They are bad for our country.” The member of Parliament in Tanzania. They voted last year against the planned agreement with the European Union.

Tanzania’s “no” has consequences. The EU wants to conclude the agreement with five East African States. In addition to Tanzania and also in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. A country does not agree with, bursts of the whole contract. However, from a Failure of the agreement, the EU does not want to talk. “On the one hand, this is not ideal,” says Remco Vahl, the EU trade Directorate. “We thought we had an agreement with all five countries. But on the other hand, is completely legitimate. If the whole Region is not yet ready, then we respect that,” Vahl to the DW. Renegotiations of the EU first.

European imports destroy African markets?

Trade unions, churches and non-governmental organizations in Africa hope that Tanzania remains hard. In many African countries, there is resistance against the agreement. They do not share the hope of the European Union, through free trade, more prosperity in Africa. That is exactly what the agreements provide that would like to close the EU with various regions of Africa. The idea of the so-called EPAs: The European Union open their markets for products from African countries. In turn, the need for African States to open their markets for Goods from Europe. For that, you get multi-year transition periods.

Tanzania’s President Magufuli is against the agreement

Not a good idea, says Gyekye Tanoh of the African trade network, a non-governmental organization in Ghana. His home country has already concluded an interim agreement with the EU. “You can’t have free trade between the two regions of the world, which are so unequal. The inequality only improves.” The EPAs were directed against the interests and opportunities of the African countries, he says. Tanoh fears that cheap imports from Europe could damage the economy in Africa. Already, African countries suffer from imports from Europe, with which they cannot compete. In February, the besieged South African poultry farmers the EU representation in the capital, Pretoria. You have accused European countries, to destroy with cheap poultry exports, their way of life. Critics fear that such harmful exports could increase as a result of the agreement.

In addition, revenue will be lost to the African States, if European products to be imported duty-free. East Africa could lose up to $ 1.15 billion if the agreement would be implemented. This should result in a previously unpublished study by the UN economic Commission for Africa, from the weekly newspaper “The East African” reported.

For the poorest African States, the EPAs are therefore also not attractive, because the so-called “Everything But Arms”-agreement anyway, duty-free access to the EU market. You would take the lack of customs revenue for imports from the EU in the framework of the EPAs.

The EU intends to conclude partnership agreements with various countries in Africa

Hope on the G20

Others see the economic partnership agreements a Chance. Cameroon has already signed a contract with the EU. Rwanda is for a rapid conclusion of the agreement. Also Kenya’s government wants the Deal with the EU. The country is hoping for better sales opportunities for its export products. “What is all the fuss due to the EPAs?”, also Vimal Shah, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Kenya asks group niches big Bitco. The company produces a range of consumer goods in the whole of Africa. Cheap imports would result in the prevention but by protection clauses. The EPAs could help to create in Africa, more prosperity. Africa must be more competitive. “For that to happen, we need a lot more trade – in both directions.”

Tanoh of the African trade network hopes to a fundamental Reform of trade relations between Europe and Africa. The G20 Initiative for Africa show that the search for new structures for cooperation between the two continents. You’ll have to wait and see, but: “You never know what new structures could arise, which could lead to something more democratic, more transparent, fairer and more sustainable for all.”