Economic Partnership Agreements between the European Union and the East African Community are good, says Ambassador David MacRae, head of the European Commission Delegation in Rwanda.
MacRae says they were ‘properly targeted, timed and edged with development assistance.’
“In order to have a push for growth, job creation and poverty elimination, European Commission (EC) granted the East African Community (EAC) access to the EU market without having to pay duties or respect quotas,” he cites some of the benefits in a letter to The New Times.
The Ambassador’s defence comes after criticisms that the EU-EAC tentative agreements would hurt the East Africa’s economies.
Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam International’s Office recently wrote saying the deals could result in unemployment and loss of revenue for countries in the African economic bloc.
The statement further claimed that East Africa countries were placed under enormous pressure to sign yet needed more time to negotiate fair trade deals.
Bob Geldof, aid activist also urged that the pressurised deals will jeopardise chances of a better relationship that both continents need badly.
However, the EU says it needed to clinch new trade deals with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries before a World Trade Organisation (WTO) waiver on current preferential arrangements expires on December 31 were running short of time.
The Ambassador however says, “There is need to make sure that our (EU) special trading relationship is compatible with international trade rules so that other countries in the WTO do not challenge it. And the current Cotonou trade arrangements will lapse at the end of this year because they are out of line with WTO rules.”
He also rubbishes claims that EAC will open markets in this region to EU trade, at the expense of local businesses, growth and employment.
“Our agenda is not about opening ACP markets to our own exports. And EPAs are not about forcing new rules on ACP regions either.”
He said the deals are to simplify rules of origin for apparel products and well-targeted development support that will address capacity constraints and be channeled towards regional programmes.