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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      2.       Call to civil society and elected representatives in Europe and Africa


July 10, 2014 in Accra, capital of Ghana, 16 West African heads of state have signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and the 15 ECOWAS states (Economic Community of Western African States) and Mauritania. It is in fact a "free trade" agreement to remove 75% of tariffs on imports from the EU and to limit their policy space on many other trade issues beyond the WTO requirements. This agreement, if ratified by the European Parliament, will be a disaster for the peoples of Africa but also of Europe. It is the bitter fruit of the European multinationals' pressures on the European Commission, Council and Parliament and of the insensitiveness of the African leaders to the repeated warnings of their civil societies mobilized for 14 years. The civil society demands the European Parliament should not ratify the "partnership" agreement between the EU and West Africa.


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      3.       The EU’s EPA negotiations with the Southern African Development Community (SADC): July 2014 update

On 15 July 2014 the EPA negotiations were concluded in South Africa. This should replace the interim EPA signed by the EU and Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland in June 2009. That agreement was never ratified. The EPA is a comprehensive agreement with the whole SADC EPA Group including South Africa although Trade between the EU and South Africa is governed by the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). The negotiating process with the SADC group was a rather complex process because of the special position of South Africa and its role within SACU. In particular, South Africa, being the dominant economic player in the region and a major and competitive exporting country, notably for agricultural products, would not get the total duty-free quota-free treatment offered to the other countries.


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      4.       Cameroon - EPA: The Parliament authorizes the EPA


The Cameroonian Parliament authorized the ratification of EPA. This agreement is in detriment of the national economy. The Association for the Defence of Collective Interests stresses that the ratification in the current state of the agreement would be suicide for the Cameroonian economy. The interim EPA signed by Cameroon remains incomplete and does not preserve regional integration to which the Central African countries want to go. The imbalance between the two parties will not promote a real outbreak of the sub-regional economy. Rather, it is the European Union which greatly gains in the operation.


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