Fighting causes for migration: Fair trade agreements with East Africa!

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“Economic refugees” - a term that can be found in many comment sections, but plays down the dramatic situation these refugees are in. They flee because they are unable to feed their children, because they don’t have a roof over their heads, because they cannot pay for medicine. Africans flee due to the devastating effects of poverty, because the Western world has been exploiting the continent for decades. And the next unjust trade deal between the EU and East Africa is already on its way. 

That is the reason why I started this petition, together with the German organisation “Katholische Arbeitnehmer-Bewegung” (KAB). We demand that EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström stops the new Economic Partnership Agreement with the East African Community and starts establishing fair trade relations instead.

My name ist Peter Niedergesäss, I am Secretary of Diocesan at KAB. I recently returned from a 3-week stay in Uganda, dedicated to visiting self-help projects that are endorsed by KAB. This year, the focus of said projects were vegetable, chicken-and dairy projects. The projects have improved the income situation greatly.  

I am shocked that the EU keeps exploiting African countries. The planned Economic Partnership Agreement enables Europe to export agricultural products, subsidised for the EU common market, to East Africa for dumping prices.

Examples of Economic Partnership Agreements with West African countries cause serious concern for East Africa. In Cameroon, yoghurt production is much more affordable with subsidised milk powder from Europe instead of domestic milk. This results in destruction of the local milk industry. In Ghana, chicken cuts like chicken wings are being imported from Europe for throw-away prices. The low-cost competition is destroying local chicken farming.

The existence of East African farmers is being jeopardised. Local and regional markets are being crushed. This is how more and more causes for flight come up, and Africans become refugees.

Dear Ms Malmström, put a stop to the Economic Partnership Agreement with the East African Community. Fulfil the wishes of the East African Community, as transmitted by Uganda’s president Museveni, and open a dialogue for fair trade deals instead. You need to ensure that East African farmers are not deprived of their existence, that food security and sovereignty of the people are guaranteed. The compliance with human rights by the East African governments and businesses needs to be ensured. Make sure that future trade relations between the EU and Africa contain binding agreements on commerce and sustainable development, including enforceable regulations in favour of enforcement of ILO labour standards, the most important environmental protection regulations and the Paris agreement.

During my stay in Uganda, I experienced the lovable and kind nature of the East African people. They should matter to us. If we jeopardise their existence with unjust trade deals, they will soon be standing at our borders.

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