"We note with concern that EPA negotiations are being undertaken at a time when most African states are still reeling under the effects of the IMF-World Bank imposed Structural Adjustment Programmes leaving them with limited policy space and options to resist calls for further liberalization. Farmers in ESA countries who produce largely for domestic demand will be wiped out by import surges from the relatively cheap and subsidized EU products."
Statement by civil society organizations in Zimbabwe on the Economic
Partnership Agreements Dedicated Session on Agriculture
27 April 2005
We, the trade and economic justice activists from various civil society
organisations in Zimbabwe, including the media, representatives of
academics, farmers and peasant movements, labour, consumer movements met in
Harare to review Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations with
specific reference to the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) dedicated
session on Agriculture.
We reviewed the following issues on the agenda of the dedicated session:
· Overview of agricultural trade between ESA-EU countries
· Agricultural subsidies in ESA-EU trade
· Tariff reduction formula in agricultural trade
· Standards and SPS measures in ESA-EU agricultural trade
· Commodity protocols in ESA-EU agricultural
· Rules of origin
We note that EPAs are essentially Free Trade Areas and will have
far-reaching implications on national economies and people's livelihoods.
We note with great concern testimonies given by cotton farmers in ESA
countries whose households have been pushed into abject poverty caused by
the unfair low prices in the current marketing season.
ESA governments should protect negotiators who are identified by the Empire
as standing in the way of "consensus" because of their pro-people policy
We further call on ESA governments to open up space for meaningful
consultation with citizens before they go for negotiations.
Participants called on COMESA and SADC secretariats to appreciate that for
ESA countries and Zimbabwe in particular, the notion that "people first
before profits" should be the basis on which EPAs must be negotiated.
Therefore, these institutions should promote regional integration
purposefully couched to fight empire-led integration and fragmentation of
They should not hoodwink ESA governments into believing that negotiations
will deliver more aid, growth and development. Instead, the so-called
technical assistance and capacity building is designed to meet the offensive
interests spearheaded by big business corporations based in the North.
Impact assessment studies of trade liberalization must be carried out and
sponsored by ESA governments in order to avoid the EU manipulation of
Technical assistance and European Development Fund to dilute the latter's
We note with concern that EPA negotiations are being undertaken at a time
when most African states are still reeling under the effects of the
IMF-World Bank imposed Structural Adjustment Programmes leaving them with
limited policy space and options to resist calls for further liberalization.
Farmers in ESA countries who produce largely for domestic demand will be
wiped out by import surges from the relatively cheap and subsidized EU
The role of ESA countries envisaged under EPAs is largely influenced by
historically determined lopsided power relations with the EU whose quest for
cheap raw materials developed commodity protocols catering for the interests
of big business and its need to protect European agriculture.
The market access ESA countries are being promised is a myth.
Barriers still exist in the form of SPS, TBTs, Tariff peaks and escalation.
Standards and SPS measures that are demanded by the EU further limit trading
opportunities for ESA countries.
While the existing standards favour developed nations, ESA countries should
explore alternatives involving, among other things, commodity-based risk
The meeting called on African governments to fully explore domestic-demand
driven production strategies, intra regional trade and the much-talked about
South-South cooperation, but cautioned that some of the identified new
markets are located in countries that are flooding ESA countries with cheap
products and knocking on the doors of the West.
On reciprocity, participants noted that this will lead to serious revenue
losses for ESA countries and also facilitate greater market access for EU
products causing a decline in local food production. ESA countries will find
themselves dependent on EU products and this threatens their quest for food
security and sovereignty in Agriculture.
We are calling on ESA Governments to pay attention to special and sensitive
products when negotiating commitments on tariff reductions, especially those
critical to food security.
ESA governments, COMESA and SADC should harmonize their recommendations on
rules of origin taking into account bilateral agreements and arrangements
like AGOA, SACU and the Everything But Arms initiative.
We recommend that:
1. Negotiations between EU and ESA countries on agriculture must be
based on the interests of ESA farmers and allow for the protection of their
livelihoods and local food production
2. Trade negotiations between the EU and ESA countries must not go
beyond what has been agreed at the WTO. The agreed position on the Doha
issues particularly with respect to the elimination of subsidies must be
3. We urge the ESA countries to start looking into alternatives to
the EPAs, as is provided for in the Cotonou Agreement. We demand that trade
and development cooperation between the EU and ESA be founded on an approach
· is based on a principle of non-reciprocity
· allows protection of ESA producers' domestic and regional markets
· reverses the pressure for trade and investment liberalisation,
· allows the necessary policy space for ESA and supports countries to
pursue their own development strategies
Jean Kanengoni SEATINI
Juliet Sithole General Agriculture
and Plantation Workers Union
Idaishe Chengu MWENGO
Tafadzwa Munopa Zimbabwe Social Forum
Agnes Chaonwa Trades Centre
Given Chijokwe The Voice Newspaper
Andrew T. Mushita Community Technology
Ludwig Chizarura SEATINI
Anilliah Masaraure ABA
Dewa Mavhinga ZIMCODD
Masiwa Rusare Trades Centre
Walter Muchinguri The Herald
Elijah Munyuki SEATINI
Davie Malungisa OXFAM America
Patricia Kasiamhuru SAPSN
Ibrahima Aidara CIROAF
Ian Mashingaidze Action Aid
Charity Manyeruke University of Zimbabwe
Rangarirai Machemedze SEATINI
Thomas Deve Africa Trade Network/Mwengo
Matilda Moyo MWENGO
Chikondi Banda MWENGO
Naome Chakanya LEDRIZ
Isaac Chikwanda SEATINI
Stuart Hargreaves Livestock/VET
Tadeaous Chifamba Foreign Affairs