Anglican Church of Kenya recently participates in the Trade Week of Action, an event where churches worldwide are mobilized to get involved in activities around Trade Justice. This year, the week was marked from 14th to 21st October 2007.
The Anglican Church of Kenya joined the rest of the world in calling for Justice in the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) that will lead to major changes in the way the ACP countries trade with the EU.
For the last 25 years, the church observed, these countries have been trading with the EU on a preferential basis, that is, the ACP countries were granted access to EU markets with no obligation on the part of the ACP countries to open up their markets to EU goods and services in the same measure. Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, this is not allowed. The EU/ACP were given a period within which they were to negotiate and conclude changes to the trade arrangement. The period comes to a close on 31st December 2007 after which the trade between EU and ACP will become reciprocal. This will mean that the trade agreements will be WTO compatible.
The church observed that development experts, farmers and economists alike are concerned about the effects that these changes are likely to have given the fact that a Free Trade area between the EU and ACP is not fair. The ACP industries and farmers are not ready for the massive dumping of European goods as they will threaten farmers and the local industries.
On the regional front, the African regional blocs are threatened as the negotiations are taking place with amorphous regional configurations that do not respect the efforts that have gone into integration so far. For example, Kenya would be much better off negotiating in the East African Community, which already has a customs union, yet it is negotiating in a bloc called East & Southern Africa (ESA). The ESA bloc has some of the COMESA members but not all meaning that the blocs created for these negotiations are artificial.
ACK staff at the Provincial, RCCS and Diocesan levels participated in the week by rolling out an awareness campaign to teach people on EPAs and other forms of Trade injustice. At the regional level, RCCS embarked on an ambitious initiative to collect 5,000 signatures to be presented to the Ministry of Trade as a protest to the unfair trade agreements.
In a previous forum organized to educate the church and public on EPAs (the Nehemiah Forum), Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi stated that There must be something wrong with these EPAs otherwise people would not be protesting and saying that the government should not sign... By saying this, archbishop joined Church and other religious leaders in urging the government to reject EPAs as they were going to perpetuate poverty.
What is your take on the ACKs position on EPAs?
By Josephat Juma
Mr. Juma is an African Executive Writer
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