Beware of hidden strings on European Union's offer on trade says aid agency

By staff writers
April 5, 2007

Developing countries should be wary of the European Union’s (EU) latest offer of duty and quota-free access to its markets for developing countries, announced in Brussels yesterday, Christian Aid has said.

"This offer may appear to be generous but the EU is still asking for more access to developing country markets while depriving governments in poor countries of the tools they need to ensure that such investments benefit their people," said Christina Weller, Christian Aid’s senior policy officer on trade.

Europe is negotiating new economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with nations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).

Campaigners say that the EU’s offer is a tactic which increases the pressure on the ACP countries to sign up by the deadline of 31 December 2007 or the offer will be taken off the table.

ACP countries have already said that they are not ready to make such hard choices without first having a chance to evaluate the impact of such a deal.

"This offer isn’t as good as it looks because the EU is not dealing with the real obstacles to ACP exports to Europe. The EU needs to address these key concerns if the deal is to have any genuine value to developing countries," said Ms Weller.

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