Update on EPA negotiations
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CTA. 2003. Update on EPA negotiations. Agritrade, August 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52482
The June edition of Trade Negotiations Insights contains an update on the...
The June edition of Trade Negotiations Insights contains an update on the state of the EPA negotiations. It reviews the outcome of the ACP-EU Ministerial meetings in May and highlights the inability of the parties to reconcile the 'fundamental differences in approach that have to date plagued the negotiations'. These include: 'the modalities for concluding Phase I [the all-ACP level], the definition of the parties signatory to the EPAs in Phase II (the regional level), the availability of additional adjustment funds, and a steering mechanism on WTO- and EPA-related matters'. It notes both that ACP Ministers adopted a resolution calling for an all ACP-EU agreement on principles and objectives at the end of the first phase of the negotiations, and also the continued unwillingness of the EU to make additional funds available to address the development dimension of EPAs. Since May 2003 progress has been slow at ambassadorial level, in part as a result of 'the lack of capacity and experience with trade negotiations in many ACP countries, combined with the difficulties inherent in finding a common trade strategy among 77 countries'. Some clarifications have been given on market access but the ACP argue that these discussions should go beyond market access to address the major supply-side constraints facing ACP countries in transforming the structural basis of their economies. The EU maintains that it is open to such discussions. There remains disagreement on the need for a modification of WTO rules on free-trade areas. Against this background ACP governments are going ahead with the preparation of a communication which will seek to clarify WTO rules under Article XXIV and the 'enabling clause', 'so as to ensure that development concerns are sufficiently taken into account in regional trade agreements involving developing countries'. The ACP countries feel ill prepared for negotiations on trade-related areas, although there is a consensus in the group that trade and labour standards should remain within the ambit of the ILO. The article notes ACP concerns at the slow disbursement of funds committed to assist in preparing for the EPA negotiations, with none of the €15 million made available through the Programme Management Unit having been spent to date. It also records the agreement of ECOWAS to open negotiations with the EU in September 2003. It also records the agreement of ECOWAS to open negotiations with the EU in September 2003. Comment: Reports form the Ghana office of the Third World Network suggest that the governments of West Africa are implicitly backing down from the agreement made by ECOWAS in June 2003 to open regional-level negotiations with the EU in September. The Third World Network maintains that the endorsement by West African governments of common ACP positions in May 2003 insisting that regional-level negotiations could only begin after the EU has made formal commitments on issues of common concern to the ACP under the first phase, means that West Africa intends to hold ranks with the rest of the ACP Group.