Nevertheless, African leaders must take some blame. More than 60 years after the end of direct colonialism, there has been little urgency in efforts to modernize agriculture, improve intraregional cooperation, and promote unity in security, trade and investment. The regime of eu-Africa trade relations varies according to geography (e.g. B whether the African country is with North Africa or below the Sahara), the level of development (whether it is a least developed country or a developing country), the existence of existing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) or the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that applies to its exports, etc. As these differences between countries prevail within each regional economic community, African countries are often in the difficult position of having to choose between meeting their regional obligations, on the one hand, and the trade regime established by the EU, on the other. Africa needs a fairer trade relationship with Europe, in which African countries are treated as partners rather than serfs, says Uganda`s presidential adviser on exports. The risk is that, if not taken into account, it will deepen divisions between African countries and make the harmonization of African trade policy even more difficult. But the success of the AfCFTA and continental integration, accompanied by prosperity and stability on the continent, is in the interest of Africa as well as the EU. But the new “geopolitical EU” has been unable to reinvent how its powers can be used to support integration within Africa, rather than maintain and even reinforce its divisions. The Cotonou Agreement offers the EU and ACP countries the opportunity to negotiate development-oriented free trade agreements, known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The EPAs are firmly anchored in the goals of sustainable development, human rights and development cooperation, which are at the heart of the Cotonou Agreement.
With regard to Aid for Trade, the example of West African APED illustrates the shortcomings of such initiatives in order to truly link EU free trade agreements to development objectives, namely poverty reduction. West African countries have argued that all Aid for Trade funds must be “new” funding – not existing EU commitments under the European Development Fund (EDF). They also calculated that the transition costs of the EPA and related financial resources to increase productivity would amount to €9.5 billion. Nevertheless, the European Commission has responded by promising a significantly reduced amount of €6.5 billion, specifically stemming from existing EDF commitments (Langan and Price, 2015, p. 283). As a result, many West African civil society organisations felt that the EU had deceived West African citizens. Namely, that EU officials had agreed to establish epadp only as a way to legitimize the free trade agreement as “development-friendly,” despite its likely negative impact on key sectors such as poultry in the region. For example, the West African Civil Society Platform on the Cotonou Agreement stated that “the EU`s persistent refusal to make a substantial and specific commitment to cover the fiscal adjustment costs that the EPA will impose on ECOWAS economies, as well as the ADDITIONAL funding of paped [EPADP], constitute clear violations of existing agreements and commitments” (ibid., p.
281, B. Initial capitalization). Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has condemned the modesty of the EU`s offer in the relative context of billions of euros in bailouts for eurozone members (ibid.). The current overhaul of AGOA is partly triggered by the profound implications of the EU`s reciprocity model. Concessions to Africa as the least developed continent in the world, which allow non-reciprocal access to the EU and other markets of industrialised countries during a fixed transition period, can only be fair. It encourages African countries to seek trade opportunities among themselves and to mitigate the risks of trade diversion. By ensuring the right order for the AfCFTA, it will also help Africa realize its potential for strong and diversified intra-African trade growth with inclusive and transformative consequences. Finally, it will also enable Africa to achieve its ambition in trade negotiations to “speak with one voice and act together to advance our common interests”. In a recent article on the impact of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on an EU-Africa trade agreement, Sean Woolfrey argues that while the AfCFTA is a good step forward in Africa`s integration efforts, it is too early to think that Africa is negotiating as a bloc with a partner like the European Union (EU). While we agree that a continent-to-continent agreement is not feasible in the short term, we argue that the EU`s trade policy towards Africa today significantly affects Africa`s ability to negotiate as a single entity tomorrow. Simon Mevel is economic officer at the African Trade Policy Centre of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Before joining the United Nations in 2011, he worked successively for the University of Pau (France), the Center for Prospective Studies and International Information (CEPII) in Paris, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the World Bank, both in Washington DC. He has over 17 years of experience in evaluating trade and environmental reforms with a focus on development issues and has over 40 publications to date. The EU is an important trading partner of acp countries, which account for more than 21% of their world trade. The EU is sub-Saharan Africa`s second largest trading partner (just behind China for the first time); the EU is the Caribbean`s second largest trading partner after the United States; and the EU is the Pacific`s third largest trading partner (China and Australia are the Pacific`s first and second largest trading partners, respectively). Find out more about EU trade and investment with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Supporters of a continent-to-continent free trade agreement should therefore focus their efforts on supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA and related African integration processes and on improving existing trade agreements between the EU and Africa. Such efforts could help pave the way for a future continent-to-continent free trade agreement. At the same time, policymakers on both sides should not allow the commitment to a continent-to-continent free trade agreement to divert attention from other ways to promote constructive EU-Africa trade cooperation. Many believe that the EPA necessarily excludes the possibility of value creation and industrialisation in the region by opening up local producers to competition with EU producers at a stage of their development when they are simply not yet ready (Langan, 2017, p. 141). In Ghana`s poultry sector, for example, producers are still not convinced that EU Aid for Trade can significantly improve the future of the industry in light of the continued influx of frozen chicken imports from EU Member States such as Germany. .
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