1611 Working Group News on Trade – November 2016

  1.  Update Ghana interim Economic Partnership Agreement and the European Parliament 

The International Trade Committee of European Parliament (INTA) voted on the Ghana interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) last 11th November 2016. The Ghana iEPA may now go into application soon so that Ghana’s trade preferences will no longer be based on Cotonou or MAR1528 but on the iEPA itself. The European Union and Ghana will have to discuss which tariff liberalisation schedule Ghana will apply as the tariff liberalisation schedule of the iEPA is outdated and its point of departure no longer exists. The ECOWAS Common External Tariff is one of the instruments of harmonising ECOWAS Member States and strengthening its Common Market.


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1610 Working Group News on Trade – October 2016

  1.   New African economic partnership enters into force, critics still unconvinced


An Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa and Lesotho entered into force yesterday (10 October), but its impact on the region’s development remains controversial. The deal liberalises trade between the five African nations and the EU, superseding the non-reciprocal 16-years-old Cotonou Agreement, which is set to expire in 2020. The deal is set to have only a limited impact in reducing poverty, despite it being one of the stated objectives of the EU.


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1609 Working Group News on Trade – September 2016

  1.   East African Community says will delay signing trade deal with EU


The East African Community trade bloc will delay signing a trade agreement with the European Union, originally set for Oct.1. Kenya and Rwanda signed the agreement, but it needs approval from all members of the East African Community bloc to take effect. The EAC appeals to the EU not to punish Kenya by denying it access to the European market. Kenya stands to lose the most without the agreement. Member states Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda would continue to get duty- and quota-free access under the EU's Everything But Arms initiative, since they are classified as least developed countries.  


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1607 Working Group News on Trade – July 2016

  1.       The European Union’s trade deal with Burundi might suffer some delays

Belgian socialist MP Marie Arena is on a campaign to stop the signing of a trade deal with Burundi citing human rights violations in that country. The Trade Committee of the European parliament has given the green light for the signing of an economic partnership agreement with five countries in east and central Africa including Burundi. Burundi is said to have violated the Cotonu agreement signed in 2000 recognising human rights as an essential component of the Europe-Africa partnerships. 

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1606 Working Group News on Trade – June 2016

  1.     Brussels to end preferential trade access for uncooperative African countries


The EU plans to raise the pressure on six African countries to implement controversial free trade agreements by putting an end to their preferential access to the EU market.  Frustrated by the slow pace of progress in its negotiations with certain countries in the Africa, which have advanced little in ten years, the European Commission plans to end the preferential access of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland to European markets by October 2016. The EU’s objective is to push its African partners to ratify the EPAs that will replace the non-reciprocal trade preferences granted by the EU to these countries as part of the Cotonou agreement of June 2000.  


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1605 Working Group News on Trade – May 2016

  1.   Full EU-SADC EPA text is ready

The second of May and while all the attention was focused on the TTIP leaks the EU had -without much notice- published the full SADC-EPA text so that it can be signed by the EU. The EPA is a comprehensive agreement with the whole SADC EPA Group including South Africa and replaces the interim EPA, signed in 2009, that was never ratified. This Agreement is based on the Cotonou Agreement and the Parties agree to implement this Agreement according to the development policies and regional integration programmes in which the SADC EPA States are involved. 


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1604 Working Group News on Trade – April 2016

  1.    The Consequences of TTIP

As more is revealed about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), it is clear that it has little to do with improving trade. Corporations will have the power to force governments to put corporate interests above the needs of their own citizens. It’s not just Europeans who will feel the consequences of TTIP. A German study highlights even bigger losses for developing countries, with many in Africa losing more than 4 per cent from per capita income levels.   


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1603 Working Group News on Trade – March 2016

  1.    The regional EPA between the EU and Central Africa is a threat to the countries of ECCAS

The regional EPA (Central Africa-EU) is a free trade agreement that would be a disadvantage for Central African countries compared to the European Union because Central African countries have low capacity to cope with the European competition and no-trade barriers that make difficult to export their goods and agricultural products. The European Union encourages the countries of the Central African region to sign this agreement which calls for abolition of customs duties on agricultural products.


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1602 Working Group news on Trade – February 2016

  1.       Nigeria’s President to the EU Parliament: Nigeria cannot sign the EPA in its present state


The Nigeria’s President spoke to the European Parliament about Nigeria’s concerns about the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) because the negative impact of the agreement on Nigeria’s industrialisation programme. He said that Nigeria was yet to sign the agreement because pertinent technical issues raised by the Federal Government have not been satisfactorily addressed. He urged to the EU partners to address Nigeria’s concerns to allow for an EPA that can contribute to the prosperity of its people.


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1601 Working Group news on Trade – January 2016

       1.    Ghana Refuses ECOWAS Common Tariff


Ghana has refused to implement the Common External Tariff (CET) agreed by West African states. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) began the implementation of the CET in June, 2015. The major thrusts of the new tariff regime include, among others, easy movement of goods and persons across borders, removal of major trade barriers, and establishment of a common market in West Africa in order to make goods from ECOWAS countries affordable. Despite that many ECOWAS members, including Nigeria, have kicked off the CET regime, Ghana, a major economic player in the region, is yet to key into it. The CET regime is expected to raise trade among West African countries, create many jobs and boost individual economies of West Africa. It has the capacity to present West Africa as a strong economic and negotiating region in the world.


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1512 Working Group news on Trade – December 2015

  1. ECOWAS would lose 3,182 billion Euro in customs duties because of EPA


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is likely to lose 3,182 billion euro in customs duties because of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The development of trade favouring imports from the EU is also weakening the regional integration process that is supposed to be one of the main objectives of the EPA, according to the secretary general of the National Coalition ‘No to EPAs’. In his opinion, by the end of the liberalization process, Nigeria’s imports would be reduced by 8.7% from Mali, 5.7% from Niger, 5% from Ghana and 4% from Côte d'Ivoire.


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1511 Working Group news on Trade – November 2015


1. TTIP Negotiations: no real progress


In October 2015 was held the 11th round of negotiations on the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The negotiations were expected to speed up after the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) negotiations were finalized. But this has not happened – indeed, the negotiations have actually slowed down even more. What is at stake at the negotiations? The EU already applies higher tariffs on agricultural production than the USA, for example there is a 53% tariff on dairy products. The US wants to lower these tariffs so that it is easier for it to sell its products on the European market. There is also the standoff between the EU’s interest to gain access to the USA’s public procurement markets to and the USA’s insistence on a less protective EU offer in the services area.  


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1501-1502 Working Group news on Trade – January - Febrauary 2015



In ECOWAS the farmers are urging the individual countries to discontinue everything about the EPAs. They are fearful of the consequences of the trade agreement on the economy of the Region. The leader of the Malian farmers organization “THE NATIONAL COORDINATION OF PEASANT ORGANIZATION “ Ibrahim Coulibaly said that the ECOWAS heads of state betrayed their people in signing the agreement in its current form. The farmers underline that EPAs was imposed on the Region. According to the farmers, free trade is better between equals and ECOWAS has no goods to trade with EU on that ground. The farmers are also asking a very important question:  If EU values free trade, why did it refuse it with the USA?


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1411-12 Working Group news on Trade – December 2014

  1.       African trade ministers meet on market expansion

African Trade Ministers have kicked off a meeting to prepare the ground for the launch of negotiations on a Continental Free Trade Area. The meeting opened against the background of the recent signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). African leaders agreed to launch discussions on a CFTA by 2015 during an AU Summit dedicated to discussions on how to bolster trade among the various countries. The Trade Ministers of the AU Trade Ministers expressed fears that current talks by rich and developed countries to form mega-trading blocs could isolate African economies further.


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1410 Working Group news on Trade – October 2014

  1. EU strikes a comprehensive trade deal with East African Community


Negotiators from the EU and the East African Community (EAC) finalised a new comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between both regions. The agreement will provide legal certainty for businesses and open a long-term perspective for free and unlimited access to the EU market for products from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. However, with the EPA, the 4 Less Developing countries will be forced to open their domestic market to 80% of their imports from the EU losing the corresponding import duties, estimated at €162 million for the whole EAC. Not ratifying the EAC EPA would cost only € 61.8 million. 


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1409 Working Group news on Trade – September 2014

  1. Deadline for East African Community Economic Partnership Agreement Approaches


The East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) will probably sign a comprehensive trade deal, an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This agreement will extend duty- and quota-free access to East African exporters targeting European markets, while also expanding the EU’s reciprocal market access in EAC countries. In recent weeks, some observers along with the Civil Society have criticized the EAC-EU arrangement, arguing that in its current form the “EPA cannot work for Africa's development, given the extensive level of liberalization (82.6 percent) that the EU demands as part of the agreement.” Furthermore, disagreements over the EAC’s export taxes on raw materials and the EU’s subsidies on its own agricultural exports have hindered consensus.   


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1407 1408 Working Group news on Trade – July-August 2014

  1. West-Africa has initialled the regional EPA in Ouagadougou 

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and European Commission are initialling the ECOWAS-EU Economic Partnership Agreement in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. On this basis, the Commission will prepare its proposals for signature of the Agreement. The Agreement covers all 16 countries of the West African region as well as their regional organisations. It establishes a long-term partnership based among other things on the ECOWAS Common External Tariff and the EPA Development Programme. The initialling of this EPA will allow Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, for which their free access to the EU is due to expire on 1 October 2014, to put back in Annex I of the Market Access Regulation, which lists the beneficiaries of free access to the EU, while these countries move to signature and ratification. The Economic Justice Network of Ghana (EJN), unequivocally condemns, the decision of the West African leaders to approve the signing of the (EPA).

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  1. Consider alternatives to EPA in Ghana

Third World Network, a civil society organisation, has called on the government of Ghana to consider alternative means available to it to enter the European market rather than signing the controversial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Signing the EPA would lead to the total collapse of the Ghanaian economy, which was already facing serious challenges. The provisions that existed in the current EPA text did not favour ECOWAS, especially Ghana but favoured the interest of the EU, which, according to him, was inimical to the growth and development of the Ghanaian economy.


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  1. SADC EPA negotiations down to 2 issues

A meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers is to take place in June to decide on the next step for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between SADC and the European Union (EU). EPA negotiations in the SADC grouping are now down to two outstanding issues: export taxes and agricultural safeguards. Generally, SADC EPA states have been opposed to the inclusion of disciplines on the use of export taxes. They consider these tools as important to their industrialisation efforts. Agricultural safeguards are important to South African Customs Union (SACU) countries for which the agricultural sector holds a number of sensitivities on products such as poultry.


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  1. W/African leaders Set a Deadline to Finalise EPA With EU


The West African leaders have met for the 44th ordinary session of the ECOWAS in Ivory Coast at the end of March to discuss, among others, on issues related to regional integration, transformation of the region and the state of progress on the ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. Western Africa was the closest region to concluding a full regional EPA last month, but Heads of State refused to sign the agreement at the last minute, until divergences over technical issues were smoothed out with the EU side. Moreover, they postponed formally signing the EPA after Nigeria expressed concerns about how the deal would impact on its industrial sector if it drops tariffs on certain EU products. A new deadline to finalise EPA with the EU will be held next month.


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1.  EAC states fail to strike trade deal with Europe


The East Africa Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) have failed to strike deal on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in the last negotiations held in Brussels. The two parties failed to agree on contentious issues of duties and taxes on exports and on Most Favoured Nations (MFN). Another ministerial meeting is now expected to be held within the region by March. Kenya stands to lose compared to other EAC member states such us Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi,  if the issue of taxes and duty on export is not solved by the end of October this year. Kenya is not listed as a Least Developed Country and as such will have its products attract a tax rate of up 16 percent on her exports to the EU. 


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  1. Working for the Few

Oxfam International has recently published a report “Working for the Few” about the overwhelming economic inequalities between rich and poor. A cause of this impoverishment of the population and economic inequality are the unfair trade relations between developed and developing countries, and especially between Africa and Europe. These economic differences are not only a matter between North and South, but also among people of the same country. The liberalization of the market between Africa and Europe is not the solution for sustainable economic growth and puts at risk human progress. The result is that the elites of the countries are controlling the democratic institutions and economic inequalities are increasing in the majority of countries in Africa. 


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1.      Anti-dumping measures on chicken imports from the European Union 


The Government of South Africa has initiated an investigation into the alleged dumping of frozen bone-in chicken portions imported from Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The dumping is provoking loses to the poultry industry in Africa. The way to correct these loses is undertaking anti-dumping measures on the imported products and increase the tariffs to those products. However, South Africa has free trade agreements with the European Union (EU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) according to which products originating in or imported from the EU and SADC enter the SACU market free of any customs duty.


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Trade Working Group News November 2013

  1.      A note on the Tripartite Free Trade Area Negotiations

In early October, members of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have met in Uganda to discuss about tariff offers in a possible Free Trade Agreements among the countries, which belong to these regions. The negotiations are based under three pillars, market integration, industrial development, and infrastructure development. However, will these potential agreements allow a sustainable development for the economy of these countries or otherwise will cause imbalanced result to African Countries as the problems caused by the EPAs? 

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Trade Working Group News September-October 2013

  1. EPAs: Kenya close to sign trade pacts with EU

Kenya is closer to signing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU) that will enable more products from Europe to enter the local market.  One of the last points of disagreement is the existing trade pact between South Africa and the EU which could affect trade with Europe. Kenya imports more and more raw materials from South Africa and fears that EU would increase taxes on the goods partly manufactured with those raw materials.

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Working Group on Trade News - July 2013

Freeing trade between South Africa and Nigeria. If a Free Trade Area were to be negotiated between Africa’s two largest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, it would have a powerful effect on trade across the sub-continent and would challenge other countries to respond. However, there are concerns that an FTA would give one-sided benefits to the South Africans, who have a developed manufacturing sector, at the expense of the less-industrialized Nigeria. But in practice the benefits may be limited. Many South African companies operate in Nigeria through non-South Africa entities, so it is not clear if they could be considered as beneficiaries of such an FTA.



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Working Group on Trade News - May-June 2013

ACP countries and specially Southern African Development Community (SADC), which is the main producer of sugar in Africa have called on the European Union to honour its commitments under the Cotonou Accord and EPAs, arguing that abolishing sugar quotas before 2020 could cripple their developing economies. A recent report confirmed the results that this would make imports less attractive. The EU would move to self-sufficiency and may even become a net exporter from time to time. ACP sugar exports will drop to a negligible fraction of what they are today, or be wiped out altogether of the EU market. 

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Trade News - February 2013

West Africa Community and EU are in a new phase in their EPA negotiations. The civil Society Platform in West Africa (POSCAO) decided on 15th February 2013, to draw the attention of negotiators
once again on the risks related to market opening for more than 70% to the EU and are warning West African negotiators against any violation of the mandate given them by the region.


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Trade News - January 2013

On  December 11th the EU’s Council eventually adopted its favorable position on Market Access Regulation 1528. This proposal withdraw valuable market access from those countries which haven’t ratified or taken steps towards Economical Partnership Agreement (EPA) implementation by January 2014. This is particularly relevant for Botswana, Cameroon, Fiji, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Namibia and Swaziland which are not Least Developed Countries.

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Trade News - October 2012

The European Parliament has begun discussing the ratification of the interim EPA with Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe. Ugandan parliamentarians and civil society organisations met for a two-day forum on trade liberalisation. They concluded that Uganda would best benefit if it does not sign an EPA. The European Union has recently been busy rebuffing claims that the proposed EPA with the West African region and Nigeria will undermine the region’s nascent manufacturing sector.

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Trade News - September 2012

The European Parliament has voted for the postponement of the EPA negotiations deadline from 1st January 2014 to 1st January 2016, while the Council has already informally agreed to support the Commission's proposal for a January 2014 deadline.

The implementation of Madagascar's EPA is due to begin in January 2013. However, due to the crisis Madagascar believes that more time is needed and asks for a moratorium of five years.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was resoundingly rejected by the European Parliament in its July plenary by 478 votes to 39, with 165 abstentions.

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Trade News - June/July 2012

The trade committee of the European Parliament voted to recommend to the EP Plenary Session the postponement of the EPA deadline to January 2016, not January 2014 as proposed by the European Commission. The trade committee of the European Parliament also voted to recommend to the EP Plenary Session to reject the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The European Parliament and the Council approved the final version of the reform of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) which will come into force in January 2014.

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EPA News Update - May 2012

The trade committee of the European Parliament discussed the draft report on the Commission proposal to set a January 2014 deadline for the EPA negotiations. The rapporteur of the European Parliament suggested moving the deadline from 2014 to 2016. The European Peoples Party and the European Commission are opposed to this proposal.

On the 14th May, the interim EPA between the EU and four ESA countries - Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Zimbabwe - became the first EPA with an African region to be applied.

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Trade News - April 2012

The tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/stop-acta.pngAnti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - commonly referred to by its acronym ACTA - has arrived at the European Parliament and was discussed in the trade committee on the 25th April. If ACTA becomes a reality it will have far-reaching consequences for Africa. The greatest risk ACTA poses to Africa is regarding access to generic medicines.

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EPA News Update - March 2012

Zimbabwe has now completed the ratification of the interim EPA it signed in August 2009. With Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar already having completed the ratification process, this becomes the first interim EPA that will be implemented in Africa.

In the meanwhile ACP Ministers strongly opposed the EU's January 2014 deadline, declaring that “the delay in concluding the negotiations is due to the non-resolution of contentious issues owing to entrenched positions of the EC side as well as additional issues being added to the negotiating agenda in which the EC cannot be absolved from blame”.

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Trade News - February 2012

The WTO Ministerial in December ended without any signifcant result: no progress was achieved in the Doha Round negotiations. In the meanwhile the European Parliament started discussing the January 2014 deadline for the EPA negotiations.

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EPA News Update - December 2011

EPA News Update - October 2011

Trade News - September 2011

Trade State of Play and Future Perspectives - May 2011

Trade News - February 2011

EPA News Update - January 2011

EPA State of Play - October 2010

EPA News Update - September 2010