Africa, EU agree to work on outstanding EPAs issues
Africa and the European Union (EU) agreed at the end of the EU-Africa summit held in Brussels, Belgium last week, to continue working on outstanding Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the aim to foster intra-African trade, Africa’s regional integration efforts and the planned Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
Prime Minister Hage Geingob represented Namibia at the summit. Namibia currently enjoys free access to the EU market. Namibian products whether industrial or agricultural, do not pay duties at the EU’s borders and are not subject to quotas. But the country has so far refused to sign the interim EPA agreement and is seeking for more favourable terms.
“In this regard, both parties should continue negotiations on EPAs by exploiting all the possibilities to reach a satisfactory conclusion of development oriented and World Trade Organisation compatible EPAs that promote African integration, economic transformation and industrialisation, and ensure the prosperity of nations to the benefit of both continents,” a communique released at the end of the Brussels meeting said.
The statement said it is important that Africa and Europe develop globally competitive industries that can succeed in today’s global markets and contribute to sustainable development.
“EPAs should be structured to ensure that our trade expands and that it supports growth of intra-regional trade in Africa,” the communique said.
The EU and North African countries are also committed to continue bilateral negotiations for Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Areas that will expand market access in areas not yet fully open, the communique said.
“We will explore modalities to exchange information on the implementation of trade agreements and their implications for Africa’s regional integration and industrial development agenda. It is time for a fundamental shift from aid to trade and investment as agents of growth, jobs and poverty.”
The EU and Africa agreed cooperate more closely in the field of maritime policy, especially blue growth, protection of the marine environment and biodiversity, maritime transport and maritime safety and security.
The EU and Africa said they were determined to adopt, in Paris in 2015, a fair, equitable and legally binding Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and guided by its principles, which will apply to all parties and come into effect by 2020 at the latest.
“The EU recognises that developed country parties should maintain continuity of mobilisation of public finance at increasing levels from the fast-start finance period in line with their joint commitment of mobilising US$100 billion per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources in the context of adaptation and meaningful mitigation and transparency of implementation.”
The EU pledged its support to the African Union decision to fast track the establishment of a CFTA in Africa and offered to draw on its experience of building the single market to provide capacity support to this initiative.
The communique said serious social and human impact of irregular migration should be effectively tackled in a comprehensive way, including by addressing its root causes and among other means by ensuring an effective and concerted return policy between countries of origin, transit and destination.
“We are appalled by the loss of life caused by irregular migration and remain more than ever committed to further action to avoid such tragedies in future. We reiterate our unambiguous commitment to continue fighting trafficking in human beings, which is a new form of slavery.”