Events

Minister cautions West Africa on EPA negotiations with EU

Date:24 Mar 2013 Venue:Praia

Opening a one-day meeting of regional ministers of trade and finance on 21st March 2013 in Praia, the Cape Verdean capital, the minister said that no country could develop without protecting its industries, warning that the region ran the risk of having its market taken over by European goods with the suggested opening of its market.

He reiterated West Africa’s position that the impending agreement should promote the region’s socio-economic development agenda. The European Union is insisting that West Africa open its market by 80 per cent over 15 years, while the region is offering 70 per cent over 25 years under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the two parties which have been stalled for about a year over among other things over the opening of West Africa market and the EPA development Programme (EPADP) and the application of the Most Favoured Nation.

In the intervening period, West Africa has sought to involve regional parliamentarians in the process, who have also engaged with their EU counterparts while Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have signed interim agreements with the EU to retain their export preferences into the EU. West Africa, which includes the 15 ECOWAS Member Stated and Mauritania, is insisting that the EU fund the EPADP, a programme to enable it cope with the consequences of implementing the impending EPA with the injection of 6.5 billion Euro in fresh funds.

The EU has rejected this request, offering instead facilities under the European Development Fund (EDF) and sundry resources for funding including bilateral contributions to West African States. Minister Borges acknowledged that while there have been milestones in the 10-year long negotiations, West Africa must remain focused to ensure that the new trade regime helps to actualise its development objectives, including progressively inserting the region into the global economy, improving the competitiveness of the regional economy and reducing poverty.

In his remarks the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Desire Kadre Ouédraogo said the adoption of a regional Common External Tariff (CET) by regional ministers of finance represents a good augury for the success of the meeting.

The EPA is to replace the previous trade arrangements that guided trade relations between West Africa and the European Union. Unlike the previous trade regimes between the two regions, the President said the ongoing negotiations have enabled West Africa to emphasise its development priorities, adding that the EPA should not be seen solely as a trade issue but as a development platform.

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EPA Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC).

Date:21 Mar 2013 - 22 Mar 2013 Venue:Praia

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Expert Level - Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) meeting

Date:20 Mar 2013 - 22 Mar 2013 Venue:Coconut Grove Hotel

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Experts urge comprehensive review of offer to EU on EPA negotiations with West Africa

Date:27 Feb 2013 Venue:Accra

The negotiations have been stalled mainly due to disagreements over the size of the West African market to be open to the EU and the timetable for dismantling the existing tariff, the EPA Development Programme (EPADP) funding to enable the region cope with the cost of adjustment to the EPA, the non-execution clause and the most favoured nation status.

 

While West Africa is requesting for the injection of nine billion US dollars in fresh funds into the EPADP, the EU is offering six billion US dollars in funds already committed under the European Development Fund (EDF) as well as existing bilateral and other sources.

 

The draft offer, one of the outcomes of a three-day meeting of the experts called to consider proposals to reinstate the negotiations, would be forwarded to Member States for their comments as part of the process of generating a consensus behind a desired offer.

 

West Africa, which includes ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, initially made a 60-per cent market offer over 25 years for the dismantling of the existing tax regimes against EU’s 80 per cent over 15 years.

 

West Africa has since adjusted its position to 70-per cent market offer but over same the transition period as a gesture of flexibility in the negotiations.

 

In preparation for the resumption of negotiations, the region has also undertaken a series of analyses of the impact of an increased market offer on the economies of its member states based on three scenarios, particularly on customs revenue, external trade, real GDP growth, investments inflows and consumption of households.

 

In order to mitigate the potential loss of revenue from the EPA based on these simulations, the experts called for the involvement of the private sector and the implementation of a tax reform programme.

 

The negotiations are being held to establish a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliant trade regime that will guide trade relations between the EU and the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries for the next 25 years as a successor arrangement to the previous partnership Conventions.

 

On the EPADP, the experts urged West African negotiators to obtain a clear indication of the amount of the contribution of the EU to the financing of the first five-year period of the fund prior to the conclusion of EPA negotiations.

 

Ghana’s minister of trade and industry, Honourable Haruna Idrissu closed the meeting which was called by the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions to make proposals for resolving the areas of divergence with the EU on the negotiations which were suspended about a year ago.

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West Africa – European Union Negotiations: Senior Officials’ meeting

Date:20 Apr 2012 Venue:Brussels

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West Africa – European Union Negotiations: Technical level negotiations

Date:17 Apr 2012 - 19 Apr 2012 Venue:Brussels

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