By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, March 28, 2014
Folks, we are doomed already. Despite much public agitations against the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the European Union (EU), the West African sub-regional group ECOWAS says it is satisfied with it (the EPA).
The chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission (Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo) say they are “very pleased” with the agreement. Ouedraogo even believes that the agreement will be advantageous for the West African sub-region.
He did not tell us what those advantages might be. But we know that the opponents of the EPA have raised very cogent reasons and arguments to prove that the EPA won’t help us solve any problem. It will rather deepen our woes.
Against this background, it is disheartening to be told by our own government that Ghana will support the ECOWAS position.
Strictly speaking, the government’s stance on EPA is flawed and inadmissible. In plain language, the EPA is not meant for regional or sub-regional blocs of countries. It is designed to affect a country on its own merit and countries individually and not collectively.
Evidence (even in the technicality of the EPA itself) abounds to confirm my viewpoint:
“The EPAs are legally binding bilateral contracts between the European Union (EU) and individual African countries. Once signed, EPAs warrant that within two decades, about 80% of that country’s market should open to European goods and services tariff-free. The European Parliament has granted the African countries an extension until October 2014 to ratify their interim EPAs.”
So, what is this mischievous claim by Ms. Hannah Tetteh (Foreign Affairs Minister) that “we can’t have a single country position. That is the whole thing about having a regional agreement. We must have a regional consensus… it’s not a question of what is Ghana’s stance because this is an ECOWAS decision. Either we all agree or we don’t agree”?
Folks, do you see how selling out a country is easy, especially when the leaders of that country take premeditated positions on crucial issues like this EPA?
Reasons given by opponents of this EPA are persuasive and cannot be dismissed as the workings of dangerous minds. They are clear that the EPA doesn’t have anything good for us but is just an avenue being created by the greedy former colonizers to dump their goods on us.
Their agenda is clear: to stifle local initiative and expand their own reach to our markets. They are known for imposing strict regulations on how their own markets should function. Trade protectionism is rampant, and African countries seeking to enter those markets can’t make any headway.
They have even extended their draconian measures beyond economic activities to affect immigration. Just consider the austerity measures and high fees that they impose on African countries in terms of visa requests by their nationals wishing to travel to any EU country, especially the United Kingdom and France.
The daily agonies of African migrants seeking entry into Europe are enough evidence that these European powers will never do anything to favour Africa.
This EPA is negative and shouldn’t be supported at all. Unfortunately, though, our ECOWAS leaders are blind and deaf. They have already been bought to sing the master’s song and will drag all of us along with them to our doom.
Considering the failures of this ECOWAS itself, what is the justification for depending on it to push its member countries into the den of these insatiable, heartless, and marauding European vampires? Have our leaders all too soon forgotten the aggression and subtleties with which these very European forces scrambled for and partitioned Africa for easy exploitation?
And now, in this 21st century, they cannot think deeply about issues, particularly the need for economic agreements to boost intra-African business transactions on their own terms for mutual benefits instead of rushing into the arms of these European vampires to sell their countries out?
Considering the constraint that “the EPAs are legally binding bilateral contracts”, can’t our ECOWAS leaders foresee the danger ahead? And why can’t they use their heads to know why the EU hasn’t moved the EPAs to other African regional or sub-regional groups but ECOWAS?
Why are our leaders so malleable, shortsighted, and docile to be so regarded as marionettes on strings readied for pulling?
I am quite certain that signing this EPA will provoke agitations all over the sub-region and may eventually erode public confidence and goodwill for these leaders. They have a huge price to pay at election time, especially when the negative impact of the EPA begins being felt before any general elections are held.
One might even be tempted to conclude that the ECOWAS is irrelevant and can’t be relied on to promote anything substantial for our good. It is a mere talk-shop, an avenue for hot-headed but misguided political rhetoric. Pathetic!!
I shall return…
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