According to the EC strategy, the EPA with CARIFORUM, for example, contains a chapter on agriculture and fisheries, which, among others, covers provisions on cooperation and assistance to the agri-food sectors of the region and addresses the issue of food security. The new EPA agreements will slowly and progressively open up EU-ACP trade in goods: immediately for ACP goods exported to the EU and gradually for EU goods exported to ACP countries. The EC has opened its market to duty-free and quota-free exports from the ACP under EPAs, including all agricultural products with transitional provisions only for sugar (till 2015) and rice (till 2010).
But Mr. Mamadu Cissikho, president of ROPPA, West Africa Network for Peasant Organizations and Agriculture Producers , observed that even though 85 per cent of agriculture produce in West Africa came from small-scale farmers, they were often poor and malnourished. This is the result after more than 25 years of non-reciprocal preferential commercial conditions. EPAs, under the covert names of “sustainable development” and “harmonious insertion in the world economy”, force the creation of free trade areas between the EU, world’s biggest commercial power, and the ACP countries, among which are most of the poorest countries on earth. This is the result, according with ROPPA: the West African market had been liberalised, cheap foreign agriculture produce compete with the local produce and the produce of local farmers could not be sold. ROPPA said it was time Africans fought for better agreements at all levels towards the improvement of the agriculture sector.
While the African market was opened to goods from Europe, even after the signing of the EPA by December 31st this year, according with the text of those partmership agreements, it would take 12 years for the European market to be opened to agriculture produce from Africa. For Nigeria and Cameroon, opening their markets to Europe would cause a loss of $ 427 millions and $ 149 millions respectively. For a smaller country as Zambia, the potential deficit is valued at $ 16 millions, or the equivalent of yearlygovernment expenses in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2006, the Commonwealth Secretariat engaged in an exercise of general evaluation of the price for those adjustment measuresnecessary for ACP countries to be able to tackle the challenges coming from EPAs, with an estimate of € 9.2 billions over a 10 year period.
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