Sommaire: EU and Eastern and Southern Africa close first phase of Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations (9 February 2006: Brussels)
FR - DE
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson met with Ministers from Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) today in Mauritius to launch the second phase of negotiations of the EU -ESA Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Economic Partnership Agreement is based on regional integration in the Southern and Eastern Africa region. Talks so far have focussed on the development component of the EPA including access to the EU market, reform of rules of origin, and measures to address technical barriers to trade. The 15 Trade Ministers from the region and the Trade Commissioner agreed that EU-ESA trade can be an effective tool for development.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "Eastern and Southern Africa comprises a number of the world's most vulnerable economies. Our EPA has to help stabilise the region; boosting competitiveness and locking in reform. There are many hurdles to overcome, but we are on the right track. The challenge is to speed up and intensify talks to meet the 2007 deadline for finalising negotiations."
The Commission was also represented by high ranking officials from DG Development. Commissioner Mandelson met with the Prime Minister of Mauritius and his Cabinet to discuss the future of bilateral trade. He also gave a speech at the annual dinner of the Mauritian Chamber of Commerce and Industry stressing the crucial role of the G90 group of developing countries in the Doha Round of trade talks.
What are EPAs?
Economic Partnership Agreements are the trade and development agreements that the European Union is currently negotiating with the 6 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions. They will replace the trade chapters of the 2000 Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the ACP countries. The exception of these chapters from WTO law will expire in 2008, requiring both parties to have put in place a WTO-compatible alternative. The European Union has committed to ensuring that the EPAs will guarantee both the development focus and the preferential trading terms currently enjoyed by ACP countries, while complying with WTO obligations. The EU is conducting parallel negotiations with six ACP regions.
The ESA region
The group of countries in Eastern and Southern African negotiating the EPA with the EU includes: Burundi, Comores, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Totalling about 250 million inhabitants, many of these countries belong to the poorest in the world. They all form part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which promotes regional economic integration through trade and investment and aims at creating a Customs Union from 2008.
For more information on ACP-EU trade relations, see: