We, members of civil society organisations, small scale farmers’ organisations and workers’ organisations from East Africa and beyond, assembled in Nairobi on 4-5 March 2015, deliberated on the recently concluded Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the East African Community Partner states and the European Union.
Various papers were presented at the conference written by experts with deep theoretical and practical knowledge of the subject. We were pleased to have amongst us top-level officials from the Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, responsible for trade negotiations at various bilateral, regional and international levels, EALA representative as well as a representative from the European Union. They, too, presented papers at the Conference, and were given ample time to explain their positions.
HAVING NOTED, AMONG OTHER THINGS, BUT IN PARTICULAR:
- That the EPA is concluded but not yet signed, pending legal scrubbing, translation, ratification and due legal processes at national and East African regional levels;
- That the signing, after the above mentioned due processes are completed, might take place at the earliest in August/September 2015;
- That the Government of Kenya has started a “sensitisation” process in more than 13 counties in Kenya
- That Kenya will host the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2015
ABOVE ALL, WE NOTED, IN PARTICULAR:
That the East African intra-regional trade consists largely of value-added manufactured products, whereas the exports to Europe consist almost entirely of raw materials, which is a carry-over from the colonial period.
EXPRESS DEEP CONCERN, ON SEVERAL MATTERS, BUT IN PARTICULAR:
- That Kenya and EAC will be under immense pressure to deliver a “successful” 10th Ministerial conference in December, 2015.
- That consultation of stakeholders including trade unions, small scale manufacturers, Small and Medium Enterprises and parliament were not adequately consulted even after Kenya small scale farmers took government to court.
- That the governments of East Africa were severely constrained in the negotiations process on account of their financial dependence on the very party – the EU – with which they were negotiating; and they were subjected to meeting unreasonable deadlines unilaterally set by the European Union.
- That the East African governments, during the negotiations process, faced some challenges trying to harmonize their common positions;
- That four of the five countries – Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – being `
- LDC countries were not obliged to enter into this agreement, and yet they now stand to face trade liberalization of 82.6 per cent over the next 25 years
- That the East African Partner States face considerable supply side constraints that have not been adequately addressed; and
- That in the next phase, after the signing of this agreement (assuming this takes place), the East African countries have agreed, under the so-called “Rendezvous Clause”, to begin the process of negotiating on the “Singapore Issues” – competition policy, Procurement, and investment – which have been thrown out of the Doha Round, and thus this new envisaged phase would contradict the letter and spirit of the WTO, and hence WTO-incompatible. These issues obliging EAC countries to give foreign investors national treatment will allow our countries the tools to support local firms and are inappropriate for our level of development.
- That regional production and trade therefore regional integration will be deeply and negatively affected by the EPA since the EAC would form a common market with the EU. Given that the EU is much more competitive, EU products will have an advantage in the common market. This will marginalize intra-EAC trade, production and effectively, integration.
- That the level of liberalisation proposed in the EPA will adversely affect food production and food security.
- That tariff revenues arising from increasing EAC imports from EU, is a source of income from the EAC that is growing every year. This revenue will not be foregone as a result of the EPA and experience elsewhere has shown that it cannot be replaced easily by value added tax.
- That the negotiations processes have been seriously flawed and UNDEMOCRATIC.
- That EPA should not be signed and ratified since the costs (industrial development, small scale farmers’ livelihoods and regional integration, and tariff revenue) outweigh the benefits (maintenance of preferences only for very few sectors e.g. flowers).
- Instead, the region should look into alternatives to the EPAs which include:
- Ways of supporting the affected industries if the EPA is not signed
- Enhancing intra-EAC and intra-African trade and also trade with other partners.
WE, THEREFORE, URGE ON THE EAST AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS AND THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY:
- To take immediate steps to consult with the small scale farmers, small scale manufacturers, and workers - unionised and non-unionised – as the major stakeholders who have repeatedly expressed their legitimate grievance that they have been excluded from the process of negotiations;
- To ensure that the recently concluded EPA must be properly discussed in the national and regional parliaments at the local district and provincial levels, and that Kenya, in particular, the discussions should also be taken to the county assemblies;
- To ensure that due processes are completed at both national and regional levels before ratification of an agreement that has serious potential fiscal consequences and revenue losses, and put to risk food security, and value-added regional industrialisation.
- To ensure that the 10th Ministerial conference in Nairobi puts that African concerns and issues at the centre stage and are not marginalised as witnessed in the previous Ministerial Conferences.
- To ensure that policy space and sovereignty of the East African countries are respected, and no action is taken by the governments or the East African community for the signing of the agreement in haste without proper consultations using the EU-recognised “principle of subsidiarity” which obliges our governments to properly consult with people at the lowest levels of our society that might be affected by decisions taken from above.
- As far as is possible, not sign and ratify the EPA but for EAC governments to create alternatives to the EPAs so that the sub-region’s current economic development and growth processes will not be derailed.
Dated in Nairobi this 5th March 2015
|KENYA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (KHRC)
|SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK (SODNET)
|SOUTHERN AND EASTERN AFRICA TRADE INFORMATION AND NEGOTIATIONS INSTITUTE (SEATINI)
|KENYA, UGANDA and ZIMBABWE
|ACTION AID KENYA
|CENTER FOR TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
|WORKERS RIGHTS WATCH
|SOCIETY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (SID)
|CUTS AFRICA RESOURCE CENTRE
|KENYA SMALL SCALE FARMERS FORUM (KESSFF)
|KENYA DEBT RELIEF NETWORK (KENDREN)
|THIRD WORLD NETWORK – AFRICA (TWN)
|OUR WORLD IS NOT FOR SALE (OWINFS)
|HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORKS (HURRINETS)