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Business News of Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Source: GNA

EPAs to destroy trades of women - TWN

Accra, Nov. 25, GNA - The Third World Network (TWN) on Tuesday painted a bleak future for women traders in the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries trading bloc should the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) be signed.

At a workshop organised by the TWN and NetRight in Accra to discuss the implications of the EPAs on women traders on the ACP bloc, Mr Tetteh Hormeku, Project Coordinator of the TWN, said if the agreements were signed, that would mean taking the women out of the retail business as many giant multilateral companies would take over the sector. He said the opening of the local markets as sought by the EPAs meant destruction of local businesses and imposition of more burden on families since women were largely the breadwinners. The EPAs are trade arrangements, which seek to allow for duty and quota free exportation of commodities to partner countries. The arrangement has been proposed and is being negotiated by the EU with the ACP countries.

Mr Hormeku contended the belief that equal treatment should be given to partners in business, adding that, while the European Union members benefited from subsidies, same was not the case in the ACP countries. He said 70% of trade of women in the ACP bloc was not exported implying that even if the EPAs were signed, it would not benefit women traders on the ACP bloc. He described the proposal by the EU to allocate funds for building the capacity of local industries as illogical saying, "Why should the EU destroy local capacity with its EPAs and turn around to build it back? It would be better if it stayed away from it." Mr Hormeku called for involvement of women in the negotiation process of the EPAs since they were the direct victims of the policy. Even before the EPAs were formally signed onto, it looked as if the market women started facing its brunt on the market. Some market women who took part in the workshop said the influx of cheap foreign products on the markets had started throwing some of them out of business. They called on the government to critically review the EPAs before taking any action on it.

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