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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to Broadcasters on Economic Parternship Agreements:

Towards the end of 2007, as the December 31 deadline for signing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) loomed, there were many media reports about the trade deals and reasons for and against African countries signing on. As many of you know, the EPAs are a successor to the Lomé Convention – an aid and trade deal signed by 71 African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries and Europe in 1975. The Lomé Convention allowed ACP countries duty-free access to European markets, except on a select number of agricultural products, such as sugar and beef, which competed with European producers. But in 2000, the Cotonou Agreement established a framework for EPAs with individual countries, which were to take effect in 2008. EPAs would open ACP country markets to European products.

Many African civil society organizations have voiced major concerns about EPAs and the principle of free trade between Africa and Europe that EPAs promote. In December, the Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest and Mauritania declared that they would not meet the December 31 deadline, but would negotiate with the European Union over the next 18 months for a “real instrument for growth and development.” Meanwhile, a number of eastern and southern African countries, as well as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, chose to sign interim EPAs, with special provisions to protect certain products from European competition.

As our featured news story by Idy Sy Diop shows, Senegalese farmers worry that EPAs would allow an influx of low-cost European products to compete with their own produce. You may wish to research the situation in your own country and broadcast area:
-Did your government sign an EPA agreement prior to the December 31 deadline?
-If so, which local products were given special protection and what does that protection entail? Which local products are vulnerable to European competition?
-If not, what are the repercussions for local producers who export to Europe? Does your government plan to negotiate a deal with Europe?
-What do farmers in your area know about EPAs, and what do they need to know?
-What are individual farmers and farmers’ associations doing to cope with the changing trade environment?
Two links that you might find interesting are:
-The European Union’s January 11 press release on the status of the EPAs (includes a list of countries that have signed EPAs and the provisions of these agreements): http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/08/15&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
-The video for Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi’s anti-EPA song, “On signe pas!”, which includes lyrics in French, English, and Wolof: http://www.awadimusic.com/

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