EPA Update December 2014/January 2015

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    Following the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations in three African regions in July and October 2014, the attention is shifting to the signing process and implementation matters for EPAs already in place.

    The ECOWAS-EU EPA is expected to be signed mid-December: at the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 12th December 2014, and few days later by ECOWAS. Some uncertainty remains related to the position of Nigeria, where opposition to an EPA is high. Legal scrubbing of the EPA negotiated text is ongoing in SADC and will start in the East African Community in early 2015 before they are signed. 

    Kenya to be re-inserted on MAR1528

    Following the conclusion of the EAC-EU EPA on 16th October 2014, the European Commission adopted, on 14th November 2014, a delegated Regulation to re-instate Kenya back to Annex 1 to EC Market Access Regulation (MAR)1528/2007, pending signature and ratification of the EAC-EU EPA. It will take effect within a maximum of two months if no objection is raised by the Council or the European Parliament. On 1st October 2014, Kenya was automatically removed from the MAR, thus losing its duty free quota free market access to the EU, and having to trade instead with the EU under the less preferential GSP Scheme, causing revenue losses to the tune of € 5.7 million per month due to customs duties (1) paid on exports of its cut flowers. (2) 

    4th Meeting of the EPA Committee under the Interim Agreement between ESA and EU

    On the 25-26th November 2014, the Fourth meeting of the EPA Committee under the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) between the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region and the EU was held in Harare, Zimbabwe. The two Sub-Committees, the Customs Cooperation Committee and the Joint Development Committee, took place back-to-back with the EPA Committee.

    It is recalled that the iEPA is being implemented by four signatory countries, namely Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe, while the larger ESA configuration, comprising of 11 countries in all, is negotiating a full and comprehensive EPA with the EU, including in services, investment and other trade-related issues. 

    The purpose of the meeting was to discuss progress in the implementation of trade and development commitments made under the iEPA. In particular, ways to accelerate the implementation of projects following the allocation of €4 million under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) to address ESA States' immediate needs as a result of the implementation iEPA were considered. Furthermore the meeting examined potential specific support to address medium-term needs for EPA implementation under the 11th EDF. 

    The meeting also exchanged views on the recent developments in other EPA configurations, notably in EAC, ECOWAS and SADC as well as on EU FTAs with third countries.

    At the time of publication of this GREAT insights, a press release had not yet been published.

    ECDPM sources indicate that discussions addressed the practical difficulties in concluding Administrative Cooperation Agreements for the purposes of cumulation, in particular with non-ACP countries. 

    The fifth meeting of the committees will take place in Brussels in 2015. 

    Caribbean and European civil society and officials taking stock of EPA implementation

    Six years after the EPA was signed, the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee (CC) met for the very first time in Brussels on the 13-14th of November 2014.

    This committee is quite unique as it was set up as an integral part of the EPA and is tasked to advise the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council on aspects of social, economic, environmental and development issues as they arise in the context of implementing the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. It also meant to strengthen the dialogue between representatives of civil society. The committee is composed of 25 CARIFORUM and 15 EU civil society representatives (including ECDPM). Discussions were broad and often not focused on tangible outcomes.

    In a statement (3)presented to the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Trade and Development Committee (TDC) in Brussels, which was held on the 18-19th of November, the Committee requested (i) to be consulted on the monitoring framework before it is decided upon, (ii) access to all relevant information so as to be able to fulfil its monitoring role, and also (iii) greater involvement in the negotiations around the 11th EDF. The TDC welcomed the involvement and suggestions from the civil society. However, despite the loud request for transparency, no public information has been made available on the TDC meeting. According to ECDPM sources, the study on Monitoring the implementation & results of the CARIFORUM–EU EPA agreement was presented and plans discussed for conducting the joint review of the EPA by the next meeting of the Caribbean EPA Council, likely to be held in the second quarter of 2015.

    This is the last EPA Update to appear in GREAT insights. As of 2015, updates on EPAs will be published in a different format, available at www.ecdpm.org/epa.

    Kathleen Van Hove, Senior Policy Officer, Economic Transformation and Trade Programme, ECDPM. Isabelle Ramdoo, Deputy Head of Economic Transformation and Trade Programme, ECDPM. Dr. San Bilal, Head of  Economic Transformation and Trade Programme, ECDPM.

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