Dar es Salaam. Former President Benjamin Mkapa has reiterated the reasons he stood against the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (Epa), saying doing so would impede the development path of African countries.
In his acceptance speech while receiving a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Public Service’ over the weekend, which was conferred on him by the CEO roundtable of Tanzania on Saturday, Mr Mkapa said the European Union-led trade agreements were not friendly to trade in Africa.
He saw the agreements as threatening the economic development of the Continent and advised African negotiation teams to raise up to the challenge and stand up for the best interests of the Continent.
“I refused Epa for various reasons that were to the best of the people of Tanzania and even now that it has been signed, I call upon African countries to thoroughly understand these agreements and find the best way they can develop better” he said.
The former head of state stressed that the EU proposal was biased to the advantage of European markets and designed to leave African countries dependant.
“Being one of the few Tanzanians to have the privilege to lead this country, I believe I did all that is humanly possible to lead my compatriots to pursue development and to extricate ourselves from the stranglehold of poverty, but importantly also, in this era of globalization, to live as a responsible and responsive nation in an increasingly interconnected global community of nations,” he told the gathering.
He added that by the time he took over, the government his successor had already initiated some economic reforms and his task was to take them to another level a task which according to him was not smooth as the nation was entering a reform epoch with a very nascent domestic private sector alongside a political and government bureaucracy“The rules of the market were dictated by international financial institutions and powerful conglomerates leaving government with literally scant policy space to help cuddle our local enterprises to grow” he said.
Others who were recognised during the Gala included Mr Omari Issa of the Presidential Delivery Bureau who was conferred with the Public Sector Partner of the Year Award for his commitment towards the continued development of the private sector in Tanzania.