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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Africa sets terms for granting EU full market access

Africa is asking its team of trade negotiators working on the Economic Partnership Agreement to focus on economic development before deciding on opening up markets to the European Union. Mr Erastus Mwencha, the deputy head of African Union Commission, says the continent should not be tied to timelines on the deal that envisages full access to African markets by 2025. Mr Mwencha on Monday told the EU-Africa Business forum in Nairobi that the proposed date was unrealistic. Africa will wait for national incomes and the efficiency of its industries improve to compete with the EU, the official said. The EPA deal guarantees Africa unrestricted access to EU markets but unlike the previous pact that expired in 2007, African countries must open up their markets to the EU products and services. If the trade deal is agreed, African countries will continue to have unrestricted access to EU market. The full access to African markets by the EU is envisaged by 2025, said Stefano Manservisi, the European Commission director general for development. Mr Mwencha said new developments like the financial crisis may affect the pace of Africa’s economic growth. He said African negotiators at the EPA talks have been instructed to go for socio-economic development and industrial competitiveness as parameters for full market access by the EU. An earlier study done by civil society groups in East Africa Community found that the five countries would lose about Sh12 billion in uncollected taxes.

Source: Business Daily Africa