Zim must guard against EPA

Experts on trade relations on Monday warned of dire consequences should Zimbabwe join the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a scheme that aims to create a free trade area between the European Union (EU) and African Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.

Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute deputy director, Rangarirayi Machemedze said Parliament should not ratify the protocol as it had anti-developmental effects like the Economic Structural Adjustment Program.

Machemedze was speaking before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Zaka East MP, Samson Mukanduri.

“EPAs are supposed to encourage regional integration, but instead they have resulted in regional disintegration because some countries signed them while others refused to do so and this has disintegrated countries in the same region,” said Machemedze.

He added: “If you look at the interim EPA agreement with Zimbabwe, it consists of clauses that are anti-developmental like the banning of export taxes and the issue of standstill clauses that do not allow duty to be charged on goods coming from the European Union.”

Machemedze also criticised a clause in the agreement that compels countries like Zimbabwe which has adopted a “Look East Policy”, to treat the EU the same.

“For Zimbabwe, it is anti-developmental and does not allow South-to-South cooperation and forces us to depend on Europe and provide them with cheap labour.

“This dependency syndrome is the one we are saying is not good because we should negotiate EPAs as equal partners,” said Machemedze.

He said countries like Zimbabwe will always play second fiddle as they cannot negotiate on the same terms with the EU, which is highly industrialised.

Machemedze said the World Trade Organisation remains the best option for poor nations like Zimbabwe as it genuinely seeks to promote economic growth of all nations.

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