With or without an economic partnership agreement (EPA), no ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) country should be in a worse position than the one guaranteed it under the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement, says the European Parliament in a report adopted on Thursday 5 February. Every EPA signed should be accompanied by trade aid measures compensating foreseeable losses by signatory countries and by review clauses, say MEPs, concerned not to damage the regional integration process among ACP countries.
The European Parliament adopted the Schröder report on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), sidelining an alternative resolution – co-signed by Greens – that set out a fairer and more socially and environmentally responsible approach to trade between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
Whether or not they sign economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with the EU, the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) should not be worse off than under the current system of preferences, says a report adopted by Parliament’s Development Committee. [...] MEPs reminded the Council and Commission that neither the conclusion nor the renunciation of an EPA should lead to a situation where an ACP country may find itself in a less favourable position than it was under the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement.
In early October 2008, just days before the historic signing of a comprehensive EPA between the EU and the Caribbean, Baroness Catherine Ashton was named the European Trade Commissioner, swiftly replacing her predecessor, Peter Mandelson. For those involved in the EPA negotiations, all eyes immediately turned on Ashton.
Since then, the expectations, controversies, debates, complexities, successes, and failures of the EPA talks, have fallen on her. So, how does this former member of the UK House of Lords view the progress, opportunities, and future of the EPA negotiations? Trade Negotiations Insights reached out to Ashton to find out, in her own words.
Central Africa: An interim EPA (IEPA) between the EU and Cameroon was signed on 15 January 2009. West Africa: To ensure the signing of a comprehensive, equitable, development focused agreement by June 2009, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit on 19 December 2008 called for the acceleration of EPA negotiations. Eastern and Southern Africa: The end of year deadline to conclude a comprehensive regional EPA was missed by the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) EPA regional configuration. East African Community: The EAC missed its end of year deadline to complete its internal negotiations and sign the EAC Common Market Protocol. The new deadline is April 2009 to provide enough time for the protocol to be implemented in 2010. Southern African Development Community: The impasse between members on how to move forward on the EPA failed to break at the SACU Council of Ministers meeting on 5 December 2008. Caribbean The CARIFORUMEUEPA began to be provisionally applied as of 29 December 2008.10 Most Caribbean countries have started to make progress in addressing the requirements of implementation at the national level. Pacific The Pacific ACP (PACP) countries also missed their 31 December 2008 deadline for completing regional EPA negotiations [...].
Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Ministers have called for high level consultations with the EU “at the earliest opportunity in 2009” to address concerns with their European Union (EU) counterparts over European Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Talks on these Free Trade Agreements (EPA) between the EU and ACP regions are ongoing.
The EU and Cameroon have signed a 'stepping stone' Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the first of its kind between the EU and a Central African trade partner. [...] The agreement combines the benefits of a trade agreement with development assistance targeted at accelerating growth and development in Cameroon. The final goal remains to conclude a full EPA with all the members of the Central African region that will promote competitiveness, growth and investment while accelerating regional integration.
Two African countries -- Nigeria and Gabon -- were both told this month that they could not benefit from a scheme known as GSP Plus, under which developing countries are allowed to sell goods on the EU's markets without having to pay duties. Eligibility for the scheme is conditional on respect for 27 international agreements dealing with human rights, with a particular emphasis on labour standards. In both cases, the countries had ratified 26 of the conventions. [...]. The rigid application of the rules in the cases of the two countries appears to contrast with the leeway that the Commission has shown to Colombia.
Brussels officials have rejected calls from three southern African governments for a reassessment of a new trade accord with the European Union. In January, South Africa, Namibia and Angola made a joint appeal to the EU, urging that it delay the formal signature of a trade liberalisation deal, known as an economic partnership agreement (EPA), with several of their neighbouring countries. Describing the accord as "seriously flawed", the three governments argued that it would set back efforts to boost economic cooperation in southern Africa for "many years".
The year 2009 is set to bring major changes in the context in which the European Union (EU) conducts its international affairs, and these changes will inevitably affect Europe’s relations with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).
While the financial crisis and its consequences spreads around the world and even the most erstwhile ‘free market’ governments discuss how to re-regulate the financial sector, ‘free trade’ agreements continue the extreme deregulation of the financial industry.
EPAs look set to force ACP countries to open up their struggling markets to European industrial exports, and to foreign investment targeted especially at the agricultural sector. Liberalising investment in sectors such as forests and agriculture could have a dramatic impact on deforestation rates, subsistence farming and food security.
As many as 53 million more people could be trapped in poverty as economic growth slows around the world, according to new World Bank forecasts. And in a blow to efforts to reduce infant mortality, between 200,000 and 400,000 more babies could die each year between now and 2015 if the crisis persists, the Bank predicts.
Partnership for Change project has two thematic focus connected to the heart of development policies and the struggle against poverty. MDGs and EPAs, central themes of the project, were indeed both created as development policies: the first one, with the aim of committing governments in the South and in the North on punctual development objectives to be reached by 2015, the second one, proposing economic agreements of free trade as an access point to development for many ACP countries.
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