As its name implies, EJN’s EPA Watch monitors Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The project maintains critical vigilance over EPA negotiations in the SADC EPA grouping and also in the Eastern and Southern Africa EPA grouping. The effects of EPAs are potentially ruinous for the regional economies. This scepticism arises from past experience that several countries within SADC have had with the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) in the 1990s. These SAPs were imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and drove the countries into deeper poverty. It was thought that the implementation of SAPs would lead to job-creation, reduction in public debt and increase in foreign currency earnings but these benefits never materialised.
EPAs are likely to be worse than structural adjustment programmes in the sense that they demand almost complete liberalisation. The tariff cuts being proposed in EPA negotiations are deeper, opening the regional markets to cheap subsidised products from the EU.
It therefore becomes important to monitor the EPA negotiations and keep churches and other civil society organisations up to date with what is happening so that they can sharpen their advocacy plans. Click EPA Issues for more information.