“ATPC Proposals on an African template for EPAs endorsed at end of continental workshop”
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ECA Press Release No. 21/2008 

Addis Ababa – 10 October 2008 - ECA -African experts on Friday ended a continental workshop on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between European and African countries at ECA headquarters in Addis Ababa with the endorsement of proposals towards an African template for EPA negotiations.

The discussion of the proposals for the template, which were drafted by the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), was one of the key agenda items at the African Workshop on the Economic Partnership Agreements which was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa from 8-10 October 2008 under the theme “Reaping the benefits of the EPAs ”.

The endorsed recommendations for the template will now be forwarded to the African Union Commission for consideration in the finalization of a draft template to be considered by African Chief Negotiators and Senior Officials and possible adoption by African Trade Ministers at their next meeting. The request for the template was originally made by the Conference of African Union Ministers of Trade and Ministers of Finance at their meeting in April 2008. It is envisaged that the recommendations for provisions for the draft template will contribute to the African Union's effort to adopt a consolidated EPAs template for the continent.

The main aim of the two day regional meeting was to take stock of the results of EPAs negotiations in the light of what African countries had hoped to achieve while at the same time evaluating how the progress towards the African Economic Community is likely to be affected by the EPAs.

In that context, in addition to discussing and improving elements proposed for the draft template for a pro-development EPA prepared by ATPC participants also addressed pertinent negotiation issues including regional integration, market access, development, trade facilitation, services.

In light of the issues discussed, the following recommendations were made:

  • Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and member States, with the support of relevant organizations, should analyse the implications of emerging issues, including global financial market problems, on the implementation of EPAs, and Africa's development in general;

  • African countries and institutions promoting regional integration need to better articulate the impact of EPAs on the continent's regional integration agenda;

  • ECA should assist in bringing all stakeholders on board the EPAs process and in developing a mechanism to respond to emerging issues that may influence the implementation of EPAS.

African countries have for the last six years been engaged in two important tracks of trade negotiations. These are the Doha Round at the World Trade Organization and the Economic Partnership Agreements negotiations with the European Union.

Given the broad objective of Africa 's integration, a key challenge remains how the EPAs negotiations can consolidate rather than complicate the regional moves towards the creation of a Common African Market. As things stand, the EPAs negotiations have resulted in interim agreements being initialed by individual or groups of African countries. These interim agreements vary across the countries and groupings. Hence, the critical question now is how to salvage the regional integration agenda given the possible inconsistency between regional objectives and the way in which several African countries and their European Union trading partners are progressing with these bilateral trade agreements.

The following member States attended the workshop: Benin , Botswana , Burkina Faso , Cameroon , Central Africa Republic , Côte d'Ivoire , Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo , Djibouti , Ethiopia , Gabon , Gambia , Ghana , Equatorial Guinea , Guinea , Kenya , Lesotho , Madagascar , Malawi , Mauritius , Morocco , Namibia , Nigeria , Rwanda , Sierra Leone , South Africa , Sudan , Swaziland , Tanzania , Tchad , Togo , Uganda , Zambia , Zimbabwe .

Representatives from these Regional Economic Community (REC) Secretariats also attended the workshop EAC, SADC, UEMOA, UMA, CEN-SAD. The workshop also benefited from the participation of the following organizations: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Commonwealth Secretariat, the ACP Secretariat, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), South Centre, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), Chambre Consulaire Régionale de l'UEMOA, Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce, Kenya national Chamber of Commerce, SEATINI, TWN, TRALAC, HSRC, the Islamic Development Bank.

Issued by the ECA Information and Communication Service
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