Daily Nation (Kenya)
June 24, 2009
It is understandable that members of the East African Community are cautious about signing new trade agreements with the European Union.
The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due for renewal as current trade pacts expire, but it is clear that the EAC countries, as well as the major trade and economic blocs in southern and western Africa, are not to keen to rush into new agreements before a few things are ironed out.
The problem is not that African countries want closed markets, but that northern economic powers tend to preach water and drink wine.
The US and Europe have been at the forefront in advocating free trade, open markets and easing of protectionism. Developing countries have in most cases been willing to go along, but their trading partners in the north have not reciprocated.
Europe, US and Japan, in particular, protect their own markets fiercely and bend all the rules in the book while doing so. They also subsidise their agriculture and industry to an amazing extent, often to the detriment of the economies of poorer trading partners that are often victims of wholesale dumping.
The hypocrisy and exploitation where African countries are pressured into opening up their markets to imports while their own products are denied access to Europe must come to an end.