European Union, Cameroon sign interim trade deal

Reuters

European Union, Cameroon sign interim trade deal

15 January 2009

By Tansa Musa

YAOUNDE, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The European Union and Cameroon signed a "stepping stone" economic partnership agreement (EPA) trade deal on Thursday pending a broader regional accord with central African states.

Like similar interim deals signed with other African countries, the agreement grants Cameroon’s exports duty free, quota free access to the EU market, but gives Cameroon 15 years to dismantle tariffs on 80 percent of its imports from the EU.

Cameroon benefits from preferential market access for its banana exports to the EU under a separate scheme being challenged in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by Latin American growers led by Ecuador.

The EPA deals are WTO-compliant and were originally meant to be signed by the EU with six regional groups around the world before the December 2007 expiry of its Cotonou Agreement with nearly 80 African, Caribbean and Pacific former colonies.

However, talks with most of the six, especially those in Africa, dragged on longer than planned, so those countries which stood to lose most from the loss of Cotonou Agreement trade preferences made interim deals with the EU at the end of 2007.

The document signed on Thursday effectively formalised the agreement Cameroon made with the EU in late 2007, the European Union said in a statement.

The accord was similar to one signed in November with West Africa’s Ivory Coast, a fellow cocoa and banana exporter.

Talks for a regional EPA with central African countries are some of the most delayed, but officials vowed to press ahead.

"I am strongly committed to pursuing and concluding regional negotiations in Central Africa and this agreement should be seen as a milestone on the path to the successful conclusion of a regional Economic Partnership Agreement with Central Africa," EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

The accord binds the EU to help Cameroon become more competitive, help its exporters meet EU import standards, and improve customs procedures and its tax regime to ensure that the loss of tariffs does not destabilise Cameroon’s public finances.

EU trade with central Africa is worth some 11 billion euros ($14.46 billion) a year, the EU delegation in Yaounde said, with the African region enjoying a surplus due largely to oil exporters Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Republic, Cameroon and Chad.

Oil accounts for 58 percent of the region’s exports to the EU, which also include wood, at 15 percent, and other agricultural products including cocoa and bananas.

The EU’s main exports to the region are medicines, vehicles and vehicle parts, equipment, cereals and milk derivatives. (Reporting by Tansa Musa; writing by Alistair Thomson; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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  • European Union, Cameroon sign interim trade deal5-November-2009 | assick ebot e

    Before a decision of that nature came up all the mechanism has been put together , from my own poit of view Cameroon has a long way to go putting that on Basic commodity it ok this will help some people to came out of some hard time and be able to get all what they need i thing it ok by me 15yrs thank God for EU.and i pray it should not only stay on paper and never implimented as my Brother said.God bless Cameroon God Bless EU

    Assick Ebot E
    MA Student study at ISES Eruope House Kosezeg
    International Relation

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  • European Union, Cameroon sign interim trade deal22-January-2009 | Fonderson ASHU

    I think 15 years is too much to allow Camerron take away the tax on import goods from EU. Why not make it at 3 years maximum?
    This could have greatly improved the standards of living of the average Cameroonian who buys more than half of all his basic goods from Eu imports.
    Nevertheless, this is a good step to strengthen the Cameroon economy if is not going to stay only on paper. Kudos

    Camerronian MBA student in Europe

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