Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Economic Partnership Agreements and the Central African Region: Challenges and Prospects – Chofor Che, Published by, 12 August 2014

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)are special agreements to put in place a free trade area(FTA) between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP)and the European Union(EU). According to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, EPAS are an answer to ongoing criticism that the discriminating and non-reciprocal preferential trade agreementspresented to Africa especially by the EU are not in line with rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EPAs are a major component of the Cotonou Agreement, the most current in the history of ACP-EU Development Cooperationand were supposed to go operational in 2008.

The Central African Region is one region of interest to the EU. The EU is presently in negotiations for an EPA withCameroon. Cameroon and the EU agreed on an interim Economic Partnership Agreementin 2007. According to a report in Jeune Afrique dated the 11 of July 2014, this agreement was adopted by the European Parliament in June 2013 and ratified by Cameroon in July 2014. According to the European Commission this agreement is supposed to furnish duty-free, quota-free EU access for all goods from Cameroon to Europe. This agreement is supposed to also gradually eradicate duties and quotas over 15 years on 80% of EU exports to Cameroon. Apart from trade in goods, the interim agreement also focuses on institutional issues, dispute settlement and aid for trade. The European Commission adds that the EPA also includes “rendezvous” clauses giving room for additional negotiations on other trade-related matters such as intellectual property and competition policy.

Cameroon is not the only country in the Central African region the EU is interested in. The EU is equally interested in establishing EPAS with Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon. Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon are yet to sign EPAs with the EU. According to the World Bank, Congo does business with the EU under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences, as an upper-middle income state. Gabon is no longer qualified for the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences scheme as of 1 January 2014.

The European Commission adds that as Least-Developed Countries, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé all benefit from duty-free, quota-free EU access under the EU’s “Everything but Arms” scheme.

There is no gainsaying that regional integration remains a great hurdle for the economies in the Central African region. Compared to other regional groupings like the Economic Community of West African States, the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community, the Caribbean Community + Dominican Republic (CARIFORUM)and the Pacificregion, the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) remains the weakest. Part of the reason for this melee is because of poor governance, the non encouragement of interstate trade within the region and porous economic policies such as double taxation.

The European Commission concurs that imports from the EU into the Central African region are dominated by vehicles, pharmaceutical products, machinery, equipment, mechanical appliances, foodstuffs. Still according to the European Commission, oil dominates (70%) of exports to the EU from the Central African states. The only state in the region that does not export oil to the EU is the Central African Republic. Other major exports from Central African states are wood, copper, bananas, diamonds and cocoa.

The ongoing negotiations for comprehensive EPAS between Central Africa and the EU are laudable, but there remain serious challenges especially at the level of individual states. In the aforementioned report by Jeune Afrique dated the 11 of July 2014, Protais Ayangma Amang, a Cameroonian activist argues that there is no fiscal compensation envisaged in the eventuality of financial losses on the part of the Cameroonian government. The government of Cameroon estimates a loss of about 1500 billion Frs. CFA (2, 3 billion Euros) in 2020 and around 2500 billion CFA Frs. (3, 8 billion Euros) by 2030. This will be a great destabilizing factor for markets within the national territory.

It is thus clear that there is need for fair trade negotiations to be arrived at by the EU and Central African states. In as much as Central African states demand for fair trade conditions, it is also germane for issues like corruption and heavy taxes to be revisited in the region. Central African states thus need to reform their governance systems so as to better benefit from EPA agreements.
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Africa Development


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Concretizing The Peace Deal In The Central African Republic – Chofor Che , Published by, 4 August 2014

On the 24th of July 2014, France 24 reported that various armed groups met on Wednesday in Congo Brazzaville and agreed on a ceasefire. Over 170 Central African officials also took part in these talks, including members of transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza’s government, lawmakers, members of political parties and civil society. France 24 added that there has still been no agreement on important issues such as disarmament.

This very vital peace deal gives the Central African Republic (CAR) an opportunity to remain united and puts aside an envisaged division along religious lines of the war torn state between the Christian south and the Muslim north. The head of the Seleka delegation, Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, reportedly, had earlier on demanded that a power-sharing deal was a precondition to any peace settlement. Guy-Herve Gbangolo, a representative of the Democratic Front of the Central African People, a militia group operating in western Central African Republic said such a demand by Seleka group was an aberration to a concrete peace deal.

This three-day meeting chaired by Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso and supported by representatives of over 30 states was meant to resolve a calamity in the Central African Republic that has led to the death of thousands of civilians and produced more than a million refugees.

According to France 24, even as talks were going on Monday the 21st of July 2014 in Brazzaville, more violence broke out in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui. This fresh violence led to the death of a former Seleka rebel and sparked new attacks from the anti-Balaka militias.

The Central African Republic plunged into pandemonium in 2013 after the principally Muslim Seleka rebels took over power in a March 2013 coup d’état. This coup d’état was followed by looting, killing and raping between Muslims and Christians. The conflict indeed took the dimension of an inter-religious conflict. The United Nations warned the international community of an ‘ethno-religious cleansing’ in the conflict ridden state during an interview with FRANCE 24in February 2014.

It is important to applaud the efforts towards peace in the Central African Republic. All the same, Africans need to learn from the scenario of the Central African Republic which has led to thousands of deaths. One reason why we continue to have coups d’états in Africa is because regimes in place do not take the interests of individual rights seriously. Free markets are not promoted. Chronic bureaucracy and corruption remains the order of the day especially in states in the Central African region. State institutions such as the judiciaries remain weak and dependent on the executive branch of government.

States like the Central African Republic are very wealthy states but the populace keep on languishing in poverty. This is the reason why armed groups cannot sit back and see corrupt government officials plunder the state’s resources. It is thus vital that in ensuring that the peace deal succeeds, the interests of individuals should be taken into consideration. Free markets should be given a chance to strive in the Central African Republic. President Catherine Samba-Panza’s government needs to revamp the private sector and involve both the public and private sectors in policy formulation and implementation.

Disarmament is also crucial in ending the conflict in the Central African region. If both parties really want to end this conflict, then they have to seriously think about disarmament. If not the peace agreement will yield no fruits.

The African Union also needs to be serious about her role in curbing conflict on the continent.  For some time now this international body has received a lot of criticisms for not acting swiftly when a calamity befalls a member state. Why then should tax payers’ money be used for unimportant missions and conferences while Africans continue to die because of conflict? African leaders therefore have a lot to do in ensuring that peace reigns on the continent. We cannot continue to shove under the carpet real problems like youth unemployment and poverty which are serious contributing factors to conflict in Africa and at the same time talk about peace agreements.

A holistic approach which involves all and sundry is thus needed to curb conflict on the African continent such as the one in the Central African Republic. If such measures are taken into consideration especially by African leaders, then we can start envisaging peace in the Central African Region.

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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

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