Interview of Guy Marius Sagna
5 January 2017
Guy Marius Sagna is the Coordinator of the National Coalition "No to EPAs" in Senegal. He discusses two free trade projects in Africa: Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
Can you explain what Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are?
EPAs are economic agreements that are being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) states. These agreements are diverse because the EU chose to split these countries into sub-regions like East Africa or Southern Africa. In West Africa, the EU’s objective is to export 70% of its goods tariff-free, which will deprive West African states of customs revenues. For instance, Senegal will lose 75 billion CFA Francs per year in the first 20 years of the agreement, and from then on, 240 billion CFA Francs annually. These losses will lower education, health or security budgets, even though states have been facing food, health and security challenges. In addition, these European goods will become far more competitive than they already are, in comparison to local goods. Therefore small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will have to close or lay off some of their employees and farmers will become poorer. Then we can expect that the migration crisis will grow.
Who will benefit from these deals?
The only beneficiary is the EU. Removing tariffs for European goods in West Africa is a hidden subsidy to European corporations. Let’s put the EPAs in context. For the past 10 or 15 years, EU countries have lost market shares in sub-Saharan Africa, and notably France in its former colonies, for the benefit of so-called emerging economies. In fact, the EPA is the solution that the EU has come up with to stop losing influence and regain market shares from the US and emerging countries. And France and Germany are in the driving seat. The milk crisis in the EU is a fairly good representation of what’s going on. In France, this crisis has been characterized by the struggle of the milk producers but also by a general malaise. 600 farmers have committed suicide in France. Hence we must face this European social crisis. We from the No to EPA National Coalition are standing in solidarity with the just and rightful struggle of the European farmers. But we do not want that suicides from France, Germany or Spain become suicides from Benin, Senegal or the Gambia.
What would you say to those who claim that the EPAs will also allow African enterprises to better export to the EU?