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Customs concerns frustrate EU-ACP trade talks

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Friday, 05 November 2010

Customs concerns frustrate EU-ACP trade talks

Trade negotiators from the European Union and its former colonies were unable on Friday to agree how to break an impasse over regional trade accords, agreeing only on the need for the accords to be sealed soon. Efforts to seal accords between the EU and six different groupings of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations have been deadlocked for years. "Since 2007 there has been an impasse (in negotiations). We cannot stay here forever," EU trade chief Karel De Gucht told journalists after meeting with trade and economy ministers from ACP states. African countries in particular -- many of which depend on customs incomes for their national budgets -- have balked at EU demands that they replace regional border taxes within their regional groups with other forms of fiscal income such as VAT. "Europe needs African countries," Gabon's Economy and Trade Minister Paul Boundoukou-Latha told journalists after the meeting -- a reminder of the wealth of resources on the continent and growing interest by China, India and Brazil to seal agreements with countries there. EU development ministers meeting in Brussels separately on Friday said the 27-nation bloc should continue trying for pacts with the six ACP country groupings. South African trade negotiators last month called for a less ambitious approach to the talks.  An EU-Africa summit scheduled for late November is expected to try to generate ideas for how to progress or scale back the talks. (Reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, Editing by Alison Williams).

Source: Reuters