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Friday, 25 January 2013

Zambia: ‘Prickly’ issues to be solved before signing EPAs

Zambia has time until 2014 to resolve the contentious issues in the negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), going on since September 2002.
The EPA was supposed to be concluded in 2007, but the European Commission has set January 2014 as the new deadline for completion of EPA process for countries to maintain the current free access to the EU.
The most important issues to be still agreed on are: how much to liberalise the markets, when to liberalise, export taxes, Most Favoured Nation and development benchmarks.
Commerce Trade and Industry permanent secretary Stephen Mwansa said it is important that contentious issues are resolved before signing the agreement, as it would not be beneficial for Zambia to sign an agreement that would not respond to the priorities and support the development needs of the country.
The benefits of signing an EPA are that Zambia would continue to export to Europe duty free and quota free even when Zambia graduates from the status of a least developed country (LDC) to developing country, Mwansa underlines
Currently, Zambia as an LDC is exporting to Europe under the duty free and quota free basis through the Everything But Arms initiative, offered by the EU only to LDC countries.
Four Eastern and Southern African states (ESA) Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Zimbabwe have already concluded an EPA with the EU, which was endorsed by the EP middle of January.


Source: bilaterals.org