Namibia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Hage Geingob has slammed the European Union (EU) which he accused of strong arm tactics in t h e ongoing negotiations over a new trade deal under the economic partnership agre e ments (EPAs).
Namibia and many southern African countries have refused to sign the EPAs, argui ng that the new trade deal offered by the EU still favours the status quo which disadvantages African economies.
Geingob said that Namibia would only ink the deal when the conditions in the agr eement were favourable to the country’s economic interests.
The Namibian Minister accused the EU of refusing to amend the agreement, adding that Namibia would only sign when the agreement is ‘right.’
“It is not that we don’t want to sign. Why else would we have provisionally init ialed the interim EPA? We are genuinely trying. We will sign when it’s right,” Geingob told a local daily, The Namibian, on Monday.
Geingob said that the EU was still dithering on issues of export taxes, infant i ndustry protection, food security and the free circulation of goods and Namibia wants the interim agreement amended to factor in all these.
“The EU does not want to hear the word amend. Their argument is that to change t he interim agreement is too much work and that’s a lame excuse,” Geingob said.
He insisted that these issues should be recognized in the agreement, and further accused the EU of lack of transparency and for treating the country as a lesser equal.
“A partnership means that all partners are equal. Why else would you include the word partnership in the EPA? It also means transparency,” Geingob said.
The Namibian Minister said that though his country had a relatively smaller GDP, it should not be ‘bulldozed’ into signing unfavourable trade agreements.
Geingob said that the EU was bent on dividing African states, adding that the cu rrent EPAs worked against regional integration efforts.
“Namibia will not jeopardize integration by signing any EPA with the EU. We are talking about Africans standing together, Namibia places a high premium on that,” Geingob said.