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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

ACP preferences to erode as EU trade with third countries thrives

Trade preferences traditionally enjoyed by the ACP Group from the EU are now under threat, as the EU warps up even more free trade deals with non-ACP third countries.  At the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee Meeting on 26 October, Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, affirmed that preference erosion was a major concern for many ACP states, which have benefited from a privileged partnership with the EU for decades.
Co-chairing the meeting, European Commission’s Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, noted that as the world’s largest trading bloc, the EU could not be expected to limit preferential trade to ACP countries. Ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) deals such as the EU-Central America Association Agreement and the EU-Colombia-Peru Multi-Party Trade Agreement were already signed in June. Mr De Gucht assured ACP partners that so far, trade has been liberalised only partially – through quotas or reduced tariffs – or gradually, over a couple of years, to take account of ACP interests.
The Commissioner assured that the EU was willing to help its partners adjust to a new trend in trade liberalisation. The ACP side further urged the Commission to take all measures to dull the negative effect of the new FTAs on ACP countries.  With the banana trade for instance, the EU-Central America and EU-Colombia-Peru deals would reduce customs duties to €75 per tonne in 10 years – down from €176 at the time of the 2009 Geneva Agreement on Trade in Bananas, which set duties at €114 by 2019 at the latest.

Source: ACP Secretariat