Nams sensitise on EPAs

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Gambia Social Forum on Tuesday organised a one day sensitisation workshop for National Assembly Members on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the African- Caribbean, Pacific countries and the European Union, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, in Banjul.

However, the negotiations on the agreement which started in 2002 have raised concern among African-Caribbean and Pacific countries including The Gambia, is expected to conclude in December this year.

Speaking at the occasion, Honourable Fatoumatta Jahumpa- Ceesay, Speaker of the National Assembly said as representatives of the people, they will continue to enhance and compliment government development agendas, by making it more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people. The honourable Speaker said she is optimistic that the Economic Partnership Agreements will change the relationship between the ACP countries and the EU. “We should not hasten this if we have good reasons to do so, within the context of the ACP and EU partnership,” she stated.

According to her, the six regions of their ACP countries are actively examining the agreement in order to come up with an economic partnership which will address the needs and aspiration of the people. She added that EPAs is to deepen their regional integration process, boast trade and create larger markets for our countries. Hon Jahumpa-Ceesay emphasised that the EPAs should not only enhance market access for exports from the ACP countries, but should help ACP countries to implement policies aimed at transforming their economies, diversifying production and benefiting from their multiplier effects with new value added economic activity.

“We must ensure that at the end of our negotiation, we have an economic partnership agreement that is balanced and equitable,” she advised. Hon Jahumpa-Ceesay said the government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Jammeh will be reponsible and responsive to the view, needs and aspirations of all Gambians including civil society organisations.

For his part, Yusupha Kah, Permanent Secretary at the Department of State for Trade Industry and Employment (DoSTIE), said that the EPAs negotiation requires public awareness and debate with a view to seek national consensus. He added that the objectives of the Cotonou Agreement signed in October 2003, includes the development and poverty reduction. Mr Kah revealed that one of the most essential characteristics of this multilateral partnership hope to combine responses to the challenges of globalisation and development aid to ACP countries.

According to him, The Gambia is committed to the ideals of regional integration, noting that regional integration can only be viable if it provides for a more closer market than the European Union. “We will continue to articulate issues of critical concern to development, within the frame work of the EPAs and to undertake necessary reforms to ensure that The Gambia reap the full benefits of the EPA,” Mr Kah stated.

He further revealed that DoSTIE has formed a committee on mainstreaming trade and trade related issues, which he said includes government departments, private sectors, civil society and legislators. Mr Kah added that DoSTIE is also looking at the thematic areas on trade facilitation, investment, standards, quality, microeconomic issues and the productive sector.

Author: Written by Buya Jammeh
Source: The Daily Observer Newspaper