An international campaign kicked off today in an attempt to mend trade relations between Africa and Europe.
The campaign, which aims to modify trade policies and eliminate restrictions between the two regions, was spearheaded by Spanish rock stars and Intermon Oxfam, an organization devoted to fighting poverty and injustice.
Latin Grammy-winning Spanish musician Miguel BosÃ©, and Ariana Arpa, the head of the Intermon Oxfam Spanish branch, hand delivered a document to the Spanish government on Tuesday with 600,000 signatures of people in support for the movement.
The document, entitled "100 Days: Trade Negotiations Threaten Europe's Commitment to Africa" was received by the government's top spokesman, Jose Moraleda and cabinet chief Jose Enrique Serrano on behalf of the Prime Minister JosÃ© Luis RodrÃguez Zapatero, who is currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
A majority of the signatories were attendants of the concert that was organized by the rock group as part of Oxfam's â€œMake Trade Fairâ€ campaign.
The document urges Zapatero's socialist government to reconsider its position on negotiations between the European Union and 78 former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) on the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000.
Under the current system the European Union will ask Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific region countries to sign market-opening deals referred to as Economic Policy Agreements (EPA) with it by the end of this year.
The document presented by Intermon Oxfam says that if the trade liberalization that the European Union is pressing for wins in the negotiations, the ACP countries would have to eliminate most of their import tariffs on farm products, "while the EU dedicates about 70 billion dollars a year to subsidizing its agricultural production and exports."
Spain's exports to ACP countries represent 1.91 percent of the country's total exports and its sales to the 78 ACP countries are equivalent to what it exports to Netherlands alone. Spain may be supporting European commission to impose conditions on the ACP that would lead to 1.4 billion dollars in annual losses for West Africa alone.
The world-renowned singers acknowledged that the Spanish government dedicates a significant percentage of its budget to develop aid. However the stars stated that the government's position is not clear and called for a quick resolution to improve trade policies between the ACP countries, Spain and other European countries.