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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Africa-E.U. Economic Agreement Stalls

Talks have been weighed down by procedural problems and a conclusion still seems far away.
The six years of tortuous negotiations over an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and seven (out of 15) Southern African Development Community (SADC) members have been dogged by procedural and substantive wranglings, resulting in only limited progress.  In December 2007--the original deadline for the conclusion of the EPA--only five countries initialed an 'interim' agreement (iEPA): Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. Angola and South Africa demurred. Procedural uncertainties. The disarray reflected in these split decisions persisted into the next phase of the negotiations, with Angola, Namibia and South Africa (ANSA) prioritizing the resolution of the unresolved and contentious issues from the first phase, and the others wanting to move further along the agenda. However, the deadline of December 2008 for signing the interim agreement was also missed, and it was not until March 2009 that any of the ANSA concerns were substantively addressed.
meeting in Brussels in late July set a new--and ambitious--end-2010 deadline for conclusion of a full EPA agreement. However, as only four countries have so far signed an interim EPA, conclusion of a full agreement still appears a distant goal.