CONCORD, the European NGO confederation for relief and development, have questioned how effective the EPA between the EU and West Africa will be for the region's development in their recent Spotlight 2015 Policy Paper on Trade, and have advised members of the European Parliament not to ratify it.
CONCORD state their regret that the EU, the largest economic zone in the world, is trying to obtain disproportionate commercial concessions from one of the poorest regions in the world. The confederation believe that the EPA would result in West Africa having less policy space to use important tools for the development of certain economic sectors whilst the EU has not allocated the additional long term funding needed to enable West Africa to cope with competition from imported European products, and to compensate for the loss of fiscal revenues.
"The EPA has been rightly called into question by large sections of West African civil society, who do not see the benefits this will have for the people of the region. As concerns the banana trade however, the main exporting governments were put under huge pressure to accept the deal. If they hadn’t, the trade into Europe would have likely collapsed, and a substantial number of rural jobs would have been sacrificed. The EU’s threat to end the duty-free arrangement would simply have made African banana exports uncompetitive. The challenge for the industry, now that it looks like the duty-free status is preserved is to ensure that banana employment is genuinely decent work: safe, well remunerated and contributing to the socio-economic development of the communities where it dominates.” commented Alistair Smith, International Coordinator of Banana Link
Sources: CONCORD: The EPA between the EU and West Africa: Who benefits?