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Kenya: protesters demand that Europe play fair on trade

 Impassioned protesters yesterday made big noise outside the European Commission offices in Nairobi's Upper Hill area demanding trade justice for the developing world. Singing, drumming and chanting slogans, the activists delivered a petition to the EC head of delegation in Nairobi, Eric van der Linden, calling on Europe to drop Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which they said would hurt the economies of poor countries. EPAs are being negotiated between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. According to the opponents, the agreements are skewed in favour of rich countries and threaten millions of poor people with job losses, government revenue losses and cuts in public services as developing countries are forced to open up their markets to the EU. The protest march was organized by Action-Aid, the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network, the Catholic Economic Justice Network and Eco-News. Through EPAs, the protesters said, Europe was seeking free market access to Africa, which would especially destroy the agricultural industry as European farmers were heavily subsidized by their governments. But Linden, the EC head of delegation, defended the EPAs, saying the "simple and straightforward" motive of Europe was "to help poor countries integrate into the global economy." He said Europe was the "most important trade friend of most developing countries", by being the most open market and the biggest provider of aid for trade. Linden had a difficult time reading his speech as the protesters jeered him. They also refused to be addressed by the chairman of the Flower Council of Kenya, Erastus Muriithi, saying: "Africa needs food, not flowers." Source: CISA