Gambia on August 10th became the 14th West African country to have signed the controversial regional Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, reported the New Europe website on Friday.
The trade agreement, according to the site, is a tailor-made designed to promote trade between the EU and African states and contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
However, the signing of the trade deal has been delayed for years because of concerns that it will only help the EU.
The agreement prohibits the use of tariffs as a tool for industrial development. Tariffs or import duties are used by countries to create a wedge between domestic and foreign products in order to create advantage for locally produced goods.
With the EPA, countries like Gambia can no longer protect their small businesses from cheap EU good who have competitive advantage.
The second provision that deprives West Africa member states of the needed space for development is the use of export taxes.
Meanwhile, once signed by all 16 partners, including Nigeria, Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana, the Agreement will be submitted for ratification.
In the case of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the two nations have already opted for trade moves that will later be replaced by the regional Agreement with West Africa.
A Joint EU-African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States Ministerial Committee on Trade will take place in Brussels in October to discuss the state of play of the seven Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
New Europe, a weekly newspaper published in English, is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.