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Free Trade as a Means for Poverty Eradication?

21.10.2005: Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Political Alternatives

Expert Meeting and NGO Strategy Meeting, 21-22.October
Gustav-Stresemann-Institut, Bonn

In June 2000 the Cotonou agreement - as the successor of the Lomé treaties - was signed between the European Union (EU) and 77 ACP countries (Africa, Caribic, Pacific). In so called "Economic Partnership Agreements” (EPAs) substantially all trade relations between the EU and the ACP-group will be subjected to WTO-compatible free trade principles. Civil Society Organisations and even the World Bank are pointing out that reciprocal free trade between unequal partners will come at the expense of the economic weaker partner. Even ACP governments comment on the present EU free trade position and express their misgivings and criticism.

According to the Cotonou agreement the EU in 2006 is bound to offer those countries alternatives, who are not willing to conclude an EPA. To offer those countries a real choice, meaningful trade alternatives have to be developed jointly without any further delay. Up to now the EU has been reluctant to do so.. Demands for the development of alternatives have been raised in public discussions, but have not been sufficiently developed yet. By convening this expert meeting the organisers would like to contribute to this process.

The expert meeting will give an introduction to EPAs implications and introduce reciprocal and non-reciprocal alternatives. Trade alternatives and their political feasibility will be discussed with guests and speakers from Southern Africa, German government delegates, scientists and other representatives from ACP countries and NGOs.

During the NGO strategy meeting on Saturday 21.10. discussions will be deepened and intensified. In addition, elements of a joint NGO strategy towards EPA alternatives for the coming year will be developed.

Jointly organised by Ecumenical Service for Advocacy Work on Southern Africa (KASA), Coordination Southern Africa (KOSA), Network Africa Germany (NAD), terre des hommes and World Economy, Ecology & Development (WEED)

The program of the expert meeting and NGO strategy meeting can be downloaded as pdf.

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expert-meeting2005.pdfDownload (179 kb)