The ACP call for more commitment from the EU
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CTA. 2003. The ACP call for more commitment from the EU. Agritrade, June 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52423
An ACP meeting of regional organisations and national authorising officers...
An ACP meeting of regional organisations and national authorising officers (NAOs) has called on the European Commission to accord the first phase of the all-ACP-EU negotiations all the importance it deserves. The divergences between the ACP and the European Union with regard to fundamental issues was noted by the group, particularly on the need for a formal commitment between the two parties on the principles and objectives of EPAs, as well as the need to address the substantive issues of common interest to all ACP states. While believing that an agreement can still be reached before September, the meeting insisted that 'the EU side seriously engage in the first-phase negotiations and demonstrate a willingness to overcome the divergences that have emerged'. The meeting stressed the importance of 'strengthening of ACP countries' production and supply capacities' and addressing the physical constraints on competitiveness. In this context the importance of the development dimension to the negotiations was stressed. Significantly regional integration organisations insisted 'on the importance of a revision of the existing WTO rules in order that they take into account their particular situation and respond to their development needs'. Comment: Significantly in its dialogue with non-state actors EC officials stressed 90% product coverage as a defining criterion for WTO compatibility. This occurred in response to questioning on how the Commission intended to accommodate the needs of least developed countries. The treatment of LDCs under the SADC Trade Protocol was highlighted. Here LDCs are expected to liberalise only 70% of their imports from South Africa (a country classified as a developed country under WTO rules). This, it is felt, allows them to better accommodate the needs of sensitive sectors in the light of the very real constraints which they face. EC representatives explicitly ruled out this option under future EPAs involving LDCs, maintaining that this would be incompatible with WTO rules. This highlights the importance of the call by the NAOs and RAOs for a revision of existing WTO rules.