EU policies slowing Africa trade - report

European Union (EU) policies continue to seriously undermine people’s rights, because they are not coherent with development objectives from Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, a new report has disclosed. The report titled ‘Spotlight on EU Policy Coherence for Development, was released yesterday by Concord, an umbrella body for over 40 international associations and 1,600 European NGOs.

European Union (EU) policies continue to seriously undermine people’s rights, because they are not coherent with development objectives from Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, a new report has disclosed.

The report titled ‘Spotlight on EU Policy Coherence for Development, was released yesterday by Concord, an umbrella body for over 40 international associations and 1,600 European NGOs.

Concord states that the EU fails to comply with its own treaty obligations while dealing with poor countries.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Yvette Mukarwema, African countries stand a better chance of improving their trade with Europe by negotiating as blocs rather than individually or as regions.

 “The EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have come together to negotiate with Europe as a single but bigger voice. This is because we realise that our interests with SADC are similar and we stand a higher chance to be heard if we harmonise,” Mukarwema told The New Times yesterday.

In the past, each African region negotiated alone with the EU through the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), but disagreements on particular clauses have made the negotiations stall since 2007.

Mukarwema is part of Rwanda’s team in the EAC currently in Bujumbura to discuss with SADC the future of trade with Europe.

“One of the things we are negotiating as Rwanda is that small businesses with exports valued at less than US$10,000 enter Europe on invoices rather than through the filling of the UER1 form, which is expensive for small businesses,” she said.

However, Rwandan exporters have decried the stringent conditions set by Europe, calling them “protectionist, unfavourable and bureaucratic”.

“We feel as if our products are unwanted in Europe. Documents for exporting to European countries are expensive and very difficult to access, yet importation from them is very easy,” Donatille Nibagwire, a banana exporter said.

Gerard Karlshausen from Concord is quoted in the release saying: “You cannot deny that European policies have effects overseas, like right here in Africa. Our report shows that European agriculture, trade and migration policies have negative impacts on ACP countries, undermining efforts to reduce global poverty”.

He advises that in order to avoid harmful policy impacts, more dialogue must take place between the EU and Africa, while upholding international fair trade agreements.

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