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Enhancing the role of Parliamentarians and Civil Society in Trade and Integration - Communique of the Regional Parliamentary-Civil Society Conference on Trade and Integration

Birchwood Executive Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

SADC Parliamentary Forum and One World Action

9 – 11 October 2007

SARPN acknowledges SADC Parliamentary Forum as a source of this document:
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We, the representatives of SADC Parliaments of Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, concerned about the pace of the EPA process and its possible implications on the livelihoods of SADC citizens, regional development and integration, met under the auspices of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and One World Action (OWA) at a regional conference from the 9th to 11th October, 2007 at the Birchwood Executive Hotel and Conference Centre, Boksburg, Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss the role of parliamentarians and CSOs in trade and integration in the SADC region and the ongoing EPA negotiations aimed at replacing the Cotonou trade waiver, which expires on the 31st December 2007.

We note with concern that:

  1. the EPA process has not sufficiently involved parliamentarians and non-state actors;
  2. the EPA process is not in harmony with the SADC Development and Integration agenda as enshrined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) adopted by the SADC Heads of States and Governments;
  3. the introduction of the principle of trade reciprocity between two unequal partners is detrimental to the objective of development;
  4. the issues of gender and women's empowerment, poverty reduction and HIV and Aids have not been sufficiently mainstreamed into the EPA process;
  5. the EPA process is unfair and unjust as the capacity of the ACP negotiators to effectively engage their EU counterparts is seriously constrained by inadequate technical expertise and financial resources;
  6. the EPA process has introduced the discussions of Doha Round issues such as services, public procurement, and competition which were rejected by the G90 at the WTO as anti-development;
  7. that important issues of revenue losses, rules of origin, adjustment costs, transition periods, non-tariff barriers (standards), etc. are not sufficiently addressed in the draft legal texts;
  8. the transition from regional cooperation in SADC to deeper integration is slow and the process does not sufficiently involve parliamentarians and CSOs;
We therefore resolve that:

  1. meaningful inclusion of parliamentarians and civil society in the EPA process including implementation, monitoring and oversight be prioritized;
  2. EPAs be aligned to the SADC integration and development agenda;
  3. urge greater political will from our respective governments to realise deeper regional integration;
  4. the needs and interests of women, marginalised and vulnerable groups be adequately addressed in the EPA and trade in general;
  5. HIV and AIDS and other diseases be mainstreamed into the negotiations and implementation of EPAs to address the issue of affordability and accessibility of medicines;
  6. an urgent SADC EPA conference be convened by the chief negotiators with parliamentarians and civil society to be appraised on key commitments before the final round in November, 2007;
We therefore commit ourselves to:

  1. mobilise our constituencies and raise awareness on the potential negative aspects of EPAs;
  2. continue the parliamentary-civil society dialogue on trade, regional development and integration at national and regional levels;
  3. strongly support the continuation of the cooperation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and the SADC Secretariat;
  4. encourage the Forum to share the outcome of this conference with its broad membership and ensure that the information obtained and outcome of the deliberations be included in a trade and integration manual for inclusion in the curriculum of its Parliamentary Leadership Centre (PLC)
  5. use available policy space such as moving motions in our respective assemblies, request our trade Ministers to account with regard to the EPAs, put EPAs on the agenda of our portfolio committees, discuss EPAs at party caucuses and also at the level of our constituency;
  6. willingly share experiences and information as a means of ensuring that parliamentarians and CSOs are adequately equipped to exercise oversight with regard to SADC trade (including EPAs) and integration agenda;
  7. collaborate as parliamentarians and CSOs on carrying out a gender and social impact analysis of EPAs and dissemination of the same;
  8. Call upon the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2007 to pass a declaration to give ACP regions more time to conclude EPA negotiations given their importance to trade, development and integration
In conclusion we;

  1. express profound appreciation to the SADC Parliamentary Forum and One World Action (OWA) for convening the conference and request them to continue this noble endeavour at both the national and regional levels;

Issued in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday, 11 October, 2007.

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