Outcome of Phase 1 of the EPA negotiations
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CTA. 2003. Outcome of Phase 1 of the EPA negotiations. Agritrade, November 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52769
The results of Phase 1 were 'satisfactory with regard to the high degree of...
The results of Phase 1 were 'satisfactory with regard to the high degree of convergence reached' according to a report from the joint ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting on October 2nd 2003. The joint report on the first phase of the EPA negotiations and its annexes (consisting of the joint reports of the various negotiating sessions) are to serve as 'a point of reference' and to 'provide guidance' for the negotiations to be conducted at the regional level. It was announced that the second phase of negotiations would begin on October 4th 2003 with the start of negotiations in central Africa and on October 6th with the start of negotiations in west Africa. Despite the launching of Phase 2, it was agreed that Phase 1 negotiations would continue in order to address remaining areas of divergence on issues of common concern to the ACP as a whole. In presenting the outcome of Phase 1 'the common agreement on objectives' (an instrument for promoting sustainable development) was emphasised and the importance of supporting regional integration was stressed. It was asserted that EPAs would 'improve the current level of preferential market access which ACP exports enjoy'. Comment: The joint statement on the outcome of Phase 1 could not hide the profound divergence which exists around issues of central importance to the EPA negotiations including: the reform of WTO rules on free-trade areas; the need to get to grips with agricultural issues arising from CAP reform; the need for additional resources to address adjustment costs; and the lack of agreement on the scope of future negotiations on services and trade-related areas. The joint report on the Phase 1 outcome which is merely to 'provide guidance' and act as a 'point of reference' more accurately reflects EU objectives than those of ACP countries, which sought a more comprehensive and binding agreement. Brussels-based observers suggest that the 'satisfaction' over the outcome was more a reflection of the European Commission's view, following pressure to stress the points of convergence, to the neglect of many ACP concerns.