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Thursday, 08 April 2010

Impatient EU Pushes for Progress on EPA Trade Deal

The European Commission (EC) is increasing the pressure on the East African Community (EAC) to sign the free trade deal known as an economic partnership agreement with the EU. Jacques Wunenburger, head of the economic partnership agreement (EPA) Unit at the EC, told IPS: "If no EPA is concluded, then these countries would be accommodated under either the ‘Generalised System of Preferences’ or ‘Everything But Arms’, as there is no other trade instrument available". Both options would entail more stringent rules of origin and higher duties on EU imports than an EPA, he said, burdening companies that buy machinery and capital goods from Europe.  The interim EPA, also known as a Framework EPA (FEPA), is the first legally binding step towards a full EPA, a new trade framework that replaces the preferential, non-reciprocal trade system between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) that expired in 2007.Talks have stalled due to EAC fears concerning reduced policy space, declining tariff revenue, and damage to local industry from EU imports. Compensation aid has also been a source of dispute.

Source: Inter Press Service News Agency

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