The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between East African Community (EAC) and European Union (EU) is ‘a raw deal’, a three man independent team tasked to examine the trade deal has warned.
Under the terms of the EPA, the EU will liberalise its market for EAC goods by 100 per cent while EAC member states will liberalise their market by 82.6 per cent on a progressive basis over period of 25 years after signature.
If signed and ratified, the team hinted that it ‘will be a kissing goodbye to the country’s industrialisation vision’.
Speaking yesterday during an awareness seminar for Members of Parliament, a University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Lecturer, Professor Palamagamba Kabudi, cautioned that the deal is only meant to under-develop Africa.
He pointed out that the trade deal, which among others, prevents instituting new export duties and taxes, will make countries lose sovereignty right to negotiate on business.
The don said though other countries in the EAC bloc have signed the deal, East Africa should not rush into endorsing the agreement for it will badly affect the economy.
“It is a bad deal. I don’t advise the country to sign.”
Our economy will suffer,” he cautioned, hinting that African products cannot compete with those from Europe. Another expert, Dr John Jingu, analysed that through the agreement, the EAC will have to commit to liberalising close to 82.6 per cent of all its imports for the EU by 2033.
He argued that through this commitment, the dependence on imports of manufactured goods and foreign aid will get more entrenched. Dr Jingu also affirmed that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows will greatly suffer should the country rush into endorsing the agreement.
“EPA is not a free trade. It will undermine intra-EAC trade with flooding of EU-originating imports,” he noted.
He maintained that the deal will throw the country into a serious diversion of trade to EU and will badly undermine the EAC destiny.
Dr Jingu asserted that the document, which favours Europe, is against the spirit of regional and African integration and to a great extent negated the African Union Agenda 2063 vision.
The African Union 2063 vision focuses on integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizen and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.
He questioned how small and medium enterprises face and compete with the giant EU. Dr Ng’wanza Kamata, also from the University of Dar es Salaam, advised lawmakers to ensure that they stand firm and reject ‘bad’ conventions which are not for the interest of the country.
He noted that currently, the countries import less from European countries and thus signing the document will give the latter opportunity to dominate the market and flood the country with its products.
A number of African MPs who gave their views on the analysis presented by the experts noted that it was high time they safeguarded the interest of the nation.
Reverend Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema) asked the experts to make analysis on both advantages and disadvantages of the deal before making any decision.