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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

ACP calling for measures to soften EPA blow

The ACP Council of Ministers , held in Brussels between 4-5 June, passed a hard hitting resolution on the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), calling for measures to soften the blow of opening free trade to the much more dominant EU. These include mitigation provisions, additional resources for EPA-related costs, maximum flexibility on all outstanding contentious issues, and safeguarding the benefits of EPAs when negotiating with other third parties.
Ministers also urged the EU to jointly defend suitable liberalisation levels and timeframes at the World Trade Organisation.
The resolution also stated the ACP Council’s “utter dismay” at the decision to ignore ACP pleas on the 1 October 2014 deadline for negotiating ACP countries that signed interim EPAs to ratify and implement the deal or lose their preferential access to the EU market.
“If you look at the EPAs under the Cotonou Accord, the initial intention of that instrument is to assist the ACP countries to fight and eradicate poverty, have sustainable development and integrate those countries into the world trade system. But it looks like over time people have lost sight of that objective,” said the ACP Secretary General Mumuni.
Contentious issues for example, include those such as Rules of Origin, which determines whether an ACP product can be labelled as “local” and thus benefit from preferential market access to EU, or the Most Favoured Nation clause, which would allow the EU the same benefits ACP countries may give to another negotiating party, such as other Southern partners.
The Secretary General said it was time the ACP and EU take “political responsibility” at this point in order to progress trade talks.

Source: ACP Group