Tnazania:MPs tie govt down on EPA deal

Published by Daily News
On 9 November 2016 saa 12:52
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Members of Parliament (MPs) yester-day opposed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between East African Community (EAC) and European Union (EU), tying the government down on the deal.

MPs from the ruling CCM and opposition camp concurred that the controversial pact was bent on killing the country’s in-dustries.

Industries, Trade and Investment Minister, Mr Charles Mwi-jage, had earlier presented the EPA document before the House to accommodate the legislators’ views.

The lawmakers reacted bitterly, arguing that the trade deal was only meant to under-de-velop the country.

Under EPA terms, the EU will liberalise its market for EAC goods by 100 per cent while EAC member states will have to lib-eralise their market by 82.6 per cent on a progressive basis over a period of 25 years after signing the pact.

Mr Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma Urban-ACT-Wazalendo) said the deal, which restricts introduction of new export duties and taxes will subject the country to loss of sovereignty right to negotiate on business and eventually affect the country’s economy.

He noted that the deal, if signed, will greatly contribute to revenue loss and create more dependence on imports of manu-factured goods from Europe.

Mr Kabwe noted that Tanzania stands to lose 853 million USD in 25 years should the government endorse the deal.

He advised the region to negotiate compensation mechanism on rev-enue losses, lest the deal remains ‘raw’.

Mr Kabwe noted that if not properly handled, the trade deal will eventually lead to yet another collapse of EAC.

Mr Hussein Bashe (Nzega Urban-CCM) faulted EPA, which has failed to recognise individual countries, preferring instead to regard the state as the regional bloc, with serious economic im-pacts.

"This deal is another triangular trade in another perspective.

It is against our dream of building an industrial economy, it will make us lose our development track,” he affirmed. Mr Bashe added; “It should be Tanzania and EU and not EU and EAC.

This thing is very controversial and if we are not keen enough, it’s obvious that we are going back to colonialism.”

The MP also foresaw the collapse of EAC due to mistrusts among member states, insisting that though other countries in the bloc have endorsed the deal, Tanzania should not rush into signing the document.

Ms Anatropia Theonest (Special Seats -Chadema), proposed that Tanzania should suggest to the EU which terms to ignore and which areas to improve.

“We should not just complain, we need to tell them what exactly do we need as a nation,” she said.

Ms Hawa Ghasia (Mtwara Rural - CCM), noted that few European countries were trading with Tanzania, arguing that ignoring the deal will have minimal impact on the country.

She said Tanzania will not be the first country to refuse signing such deals, citing Angola, Nigeria and Gambia which had rejected EPA.

Mr Kangi Lugola (Mwibara - CCM), cautioned that signing the deal will turn the country into the source of raw materials for European industries, frustrating the country’s industrialisation plan, as a result.

He charged that Tanzania will never afford competing with Europe whose products are more superior than domestically manufactured goods.

“EPA is not a free trade. It will undermine intra-EAC trade with flooding of EU sourced imports,” noted Mr Lugola, maintaining that the deal will condemn the country into a serious diversion of trade to EU and will badly undermine the EAC destiny.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, said it needed some level of madness to endorse the controversial deal.