The EU and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) countries will give a strong push to their joint trade and development plans with the launch of negotiations for Economic and Partnership Agreements between the EU and the Western and Central African regions. Ahead of this event, on 2 October 2003, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Development Commissioner Poul Nielson will meet with Trade Ministers of the 77 ACP countries. They will take stock of results of the first phase of the negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), covering all-ACPs, which were launched in September 2002 and discuss how to progress with regional EPA negotiations between the EU and individual ACP regions. The two Commissioners will then travel to Africa to launch regional negotiations with Central Africa in Brazzaville on 4 October 2003 and with West Africa in Cotonou on 6 October 2003.
EU Trade Commissioner Lamy said: “The setback of Cancun has not diminished our ambition to ensure that trade contributes to the development of poor countries. With the launch of Economic and Partnership Agreements between the EU and ACP regions we have an opportunity to ensure that the benefits of trade opening and accompanying rules are evenly spread. A key objective in these negotiations is to help ACPs integrate regionally. Tearing down barriers to trade among themselves is the necessary complement to the almost full access to the EU market already enjoyed by these countries.”
Commissioner Nielson added: “Three years after the signature of the Cotonou agreement we are know opening an important chapter. Ahead lies the challenge and joint responsibility to develop one of the main components of the Cotonou agreement, the Economic Partnership Agreements. EPAs are an integral part of our development policy towards the ACPs - not an alternative. They constitute an important part of our response to the joint objective of eradicating poverty and promoting a progressive and harmonious integration of ACPs in the world economy. As commissioner for development assistance and humanitarian aid, I would like to confirm the EU’s commitment to ensure that the EPA’s become instruments at the benefit of the populations in ACP countries. The launch of the regional negotiations with West and Central Africa later this week confirms the quality of our partnership that will be essential in achieving the results we have set out to obtain.”
EU-ACP Trade Ministerial Meeting (Brussels, 2 October 2003)
The objectives and principles of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) have been settled in the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. EPAs are designed to be complementary to the development co-operation, seeking for mutually reinforcing results. The EPA negotiations on the all-ACP– EU level were launched in Brussels on 27 September 2002. At the opening session an agreement was reached to sequence the negotiations in two phases.
The first phase has taken place at an all-ACP-EC level and has addressed horizontal issues of interest to all parties. Numerous meetings at ambassadorial and technical level have taken place around groups of issues: the development dimension of EPAs, market access, agriculture and fisheries, services, legal issues and trade-related areas. The areas of convergence and divergence have been identified in a joint report and will be discussed in Brussels on 2 October by the ACP Ministers and both EU Commissioners. The second phase starts now at the level of ACP regions and according to the regional setting agreed by ACPs themselves.
Opening of EPAs negotiations with Western and Central African regions
Two regions have now signalled their readiness to launch negotiations for EPAs with the EU: ECOWAS and CEMAC.
EU Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Poul Nielson will open trade negotiations with Central Africa in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on 4th October. They will meet the President of the republic of Congo, H.E. Mr Sassou Nguesso, the Executive Secretary of CEMAC, Mr Nkuete and key ministers responsible for EPA negotiations.
Two days later, they will open negotiations with Western Africa in Cotonou, Benin. They will meet the President of Benin, H.E. Mr Kerekou, the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Dr Chambas, the Commissioner for Trade of UEMOA, Mr Cissé, as well as key ministers responsible for EPA negotiations.
Both parties will agree on the structure and a road map for the negotiations, based on the priorities of the regions.
West Africa (ECOWAS)
The Economic Community Of Western African States (ECOWAS) is a 15-member regional grouping founded in 1975. It includes the eight countries of the West-African Economic and Monetary Union (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo) and Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Its main objective is to establish an economic and monetary union and to promote economic integration in all fields of economic activity. Projects in the pipeline include a single currency, a free-trade area and a common external tariff.
The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) was established by the Treaty signed in Dakar on 10 January 1994. The eight members share a common currency (the CFA franc), pursue a common economic and monetary policy and have had a customs union up and running since 1 January 2000. Its objective is to develop a common market based on the free flow of persons, goods, services, and capital and on the right of establishment.
Central Africa (CEMAC)
The Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) in Central Africa forms a customs and monetary union and consists of six countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Guinea Equatorial. Sao Tome and Principe is economically linked to CEMAC in a free trade arrangement and will also form part of the EPA negotiations.
The 77 ACP countries are:
Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Cook Islands, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Federal States of Micronesia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.