Market-access issues in EPA negotiations
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CTA. 2003. Market-access issues in EPA negotiations. Agritrade, July 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52446
In a presentation to a meeting of officials and ambassadors from ...
In a presentation to a meeting of officials and ambassadors from the Eastern and Southern African region on developing an EPA negotiating mandate for the region in May 2003, the COMESA Secretariat set out the market-access issues faced in the EPA negotiations. The paper differentiated between market issues at two levels: trade-capacity constraints (i.e. the ability to produce to the standards required by the market) and market-access constraints. Three major areas where market-access issues need to be addressed were identified: the management of current preferential access; rules of origin issues; sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS). For the agricultural sector the most important area is SPS issues. The paper noted concerns that 'certain sanitary and phytosanitary measures applied by EU countries may be inconsistent with the WTO's SPS agreement and that SPS measures 'can become barriers to trade if they place demands on importers that are more costly to meet than the requirements applied to domestic producers.' The paper noted that Eastern and Southern African countries (ESA) 'face difficulties in entering the EU food market, not necessarily because their products are unsafe but often because the ESA country lacks the monitoring, testing and certification infrastructure that would make it possible for them to demonstrate compliance with import requirements'. Difficulties in securing equivalency recognition were also highlighted. The paper noted that ESA countries had suffered significant export earning losses as a result of being unable to verifiably meet EU standards. Particular problems were seen to arise for small-scale producers who simply could not afford the costs of compliance and subsequent verification (since these processes tend to have high fixed costs which need to be spread across large volumes of production). The scope for SPS measures being used to create administrative barriers to trade was also highlighted. The importance of developing capacities to verifying compliance was stressed and the scope for doing so at a regional level was highlighted. In the floriculture and horticulture sectors, particular problems arising from the introduction of 'zero' tolerance and strict minimum residue levels were highlighted. The paper expressed the view that the EPA negotiations could provide an opportunity to comprehensively address these market-access issues. More specifically in the SPS field, the paper called for: the negotiation of an agreement with the EU that it will not change sanitary and phytosanitary regulations unless there is a valid scientific reason; the provision of technical and financial assistance to assist in meeting existing and new regulations; the provision of technical and financial assistance to assist in building the capacity to test and verify compliance; the provision of technical and financial assistance for scientific monitoring and verification; support for the development of programmes of self regulation; the return of all shipments refused entry into the EU and the provision of the test results on which this decision was taken; the development of harmonised testing standards in the EU. Comment: It needs to be recognised that EU SPS barriers create an uneven playing field where the EU producers and processors are financially supported from public funds in meeting and verifying compliance with the new standards and no similar programmes of support are available to ACP suppliers. It should be recalled that in May the European Commission announced four new forms of assistance for EU farmers to meet the higher quality food standards the EU is introducing. These four types of support are aimed at: helping farmers to meet the new and exacting standards; a scheme to promote animal welfare, with those who farm better than the normal good husbandry standard receiving permanent aid to compensate for the costs and income foregone; a five-year scheme to support farmers' participation in certification programmes; a scheme for advertising by producer groups of quality labelled products.