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Thursday, 27 October 2011

EU Trade Commissioner addresses ACP assembly over EPAs

Speaking to the group of ACP countries last week, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht took a conciliatory but firm stance with regard to the pending negotiation and ratification of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between the EU and the ACP regions. “After 4 years, 18 countries have still not moved towards ratification of their agreements,” said De Gucht. “This situation is unfair towards those which have done so. Therefore, the Commission has had to adopt a proposal to withdraw market access preferences by the end of 2013, for those countries that do not complete their procedures.”

While the loss of preferential market access may hit several countries hard, De Gucht said he was optimistic that many regions will have completed negotiations and ratification by the beginning of 2014. “We reached out to the governments concerned to ensure timely completion of legal obligations,” the Commissioner said. “At the same time, we also put in solid efforts to intensify negotiations on full EPAs, with some good results. If sufficient political will is mustered on all sides and we develop a realistic understanding of our mutual interests, it is possible to conclude these processes soon, well in time for ratification before 2014.”

Source: CTA/European Commission

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