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2015-12_dc

D+C  e-Paper  December 2015 5 judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, physical and sexualised assault, extortion, severe restrictions on movement as well as land confiscation and forced relocation. No future in Myanmar In these circumstances, Rohingya see no future in Myanmar. Desperation makes them flee, knowing that they risk death and slavery. They are aware that they are likely to lack legal documents and employment, depending on governmental or UNHCR aid in refugee camps in third countries. Nevertheless, IDPs told APHR that “if they could survive the voyage to Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, they felt their lives would be improved.” In May, Rohingya made international headlines after more than 4000 refugees were left stranded on fishing boats in the Andaman Sea, abandoned by traffickers. Following intense international pressure, Indonesia and Malaysia finally accepted some of them temporarily as asylum seek- ers. They live in camps, sometimes sepa- rated from their family members. Media reports suggest that some of the refugees have fled the camps in the meantime, pos- sibly with the help of traffickers. Despite several high-level interna- tional meetings since the human tragedy in May, neither the situation in Myan- mar nor ASEAN countries’ stance have improved. As the report states, “regional governments have so far failed to under- take meaningful initiatives in law, policy or practice to adequately prevent or pre- pare for the next large-scale exodus of asy- lum seekers.” First and foremost, the APHR authors want the ASEAN member countries to put pressure on the Myanmar govern- ment to end rights abuses that stifle Roh- ingya lives and livelihoods. In their eyes, ASEAN’s commitment to non-interference is misguided in this case. At the same time, they argue that ASEAN member states must prepare for more refugees and put measures in place to ensure safe and legal means for seeking asylum. Finally, the regional lawmakers call for a binding ASEAN convention on refugees. Obviously, the Myanmar government carries the greatest responsibility. Among other things, the APHR authors demand that the authorities provide a safe space for Rohingya, to end the abuse and to establish a process for registration and citizenship. In Myanmar, the new NLD government could take an important first step to a new democratic and rights-based future simply by recognising the Rohingya minority. Katja Dombrowski Link: APHR report: Disenfranchisement and desperation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. http://aseanmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/APHR_Ra- khine-State-Report.pdf Trade EPAs at risk According to a recent study published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF), the Transatlantic Trade and Invest- ment Partnership (TTIP) puts at risk Economic Partnership Agreements the EU has reached with countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). The author calls for a modifica- tion of TTIP. The Economic Partnership Agree- ments (EPAs) have been on the agenda for twelve years. Now, they are being concluded. They remain contested, but according to HBF-author Helmut Asche they look reasonable as, in his eyes, countries of the global south have regained policy space. The EPAs are meant to boost trade between the EU and several regional eco- nomic communities that are made up of ACP nations. However, these regional communities are loose and superficial. They often have not achieved more than customs reductions. Making matters more complex, some countries are mem- bers of more than one regional commu- nity. Asche, nonetheless, rules out that the EPAs will undermine regional integra- tion. This statement is not trivial. For exam- ple, the agreement the EU was negotiating with the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) was close to split- ting up ECOWAS itself. When negotiations were stuck in 2014, Ghana and the Ivory Coast signed an interim-EPA to promote cocoa-exports. According to Asche, such risks were evident in different world- regions, but that is no longer the case. By making various trade-offs, the par- ties have agreed to a kind of “gradual” liberalisation. Asche argues that the EPA debate has thus become less explosive. He sums up the outcomes of the most con- tested points: Market access: The EU will allow goods 100 % customs-free access to the EU whereas African partners must open up 85 % of their markets. Safeguard clauses: Developing coun- tries can protect agriculture, but doing so is cumbersome in practice. Export duties: ACP members can levy duties on commodity exports in order to promote local processing. Subsidies: ACP governments are allowed to subsidise national manufactur- ers. Local content rules: African govern- ments tend to compel foreign companies to source supplies at the national level, but this does not apply to EU-based com- panies. Most favoured nation treatment (MFN): African states are allowed to favour other developing countries, but not China, over the EU in trade policies. The author sees putting the EPAs into practice as the next big hurdle. On com- pletion of his study, only 32 of 49 coun- tries in Sub-Saharan Africa had signed,

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