Lomé, 04.03.14 - Anti EPAs Lead Campaigner, The Rev. Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah, Jr., and Secretary – General of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) expressed great disappointment over the fast track conclusion of signing and the secrecy of the agreed text of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) in late January 2014.
In a meeting held yesterday with EU Ambassador to Togo, H. E. Nicolas Berlanga–Martinez, Rev. Dr. Jallah reiterated the Churches in West Africa's non compliance position to the weak performance of the ECOWAS Trade Negotiators in reaching a sealed deal with the EU. He called for transparency and fairness in the negotiations through national level consultations with respective national governments, faith and religious leaders, and civil society organizations.
“The ECOWAS–EU EPA is not in the true spirit of partnership”, asserted Rev. Dr. Jallah to the EU Head of Delegation in Togo, “undue pressure was exerted by the EU on the ECOWAS Commission and its member countries with a unilateral, arbitrary and egoistic ultimatum for the signing of the EPAs until October 2014. This is unfair and outside the framework of the Cotonou Agreement!”The EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation, H.E. Nicolas Berlinga–Martinez denied the fact that the EU had pressured the ECOWAS Commission since the agreement has being under negotiation for over a decade. Ambassador Berlanga–Martinez strongly articulated that the negotiations were long overdue, and were to be concluded. He further claimed that the EPAs will enhance good trade relations in the ECOWAS Sub–region and promote deeper integration among member states. However, Rev. Dr. Jallah vividly rejected the views of Ambassador Berlinga–Martinez and emphasized that the EPAs would rather seal in the eternal resource curse on ECOWAS economies, and therefore hamper the establishment of processing industries for African raw materials. “West Africans will lose their domestic markets, resulting into exploitation, unemployment and underemployment of our people. Small scale farmers and workers of the region are set to suffer under price regimes dominated by the industrialized nations.” said Rev. Dr. Jallah.
In his conclusion Rev. Dr. Jallah emphasized: “It is time that the ECOWAS Commission listens to the wisdom from faith communities, the private sector and civil society through national consultations, and not to give backing to the greedy policies of the EU Commission.”