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AU’s Ministerial Declaration on EPA negotiations

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA P. O. Box 3243
Telephone 517 700 Fax: +251-1-517844

5 - 9 JUNE 2005


We, the Ministers of Trade of the Member States of the African Union, meeting in our
Third Ordinary Session in Cairo, Egypt, on 8-9 June 2005 to consider a number of issues
including the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between our
countries/regions and the European Union affirm the following:

1. EPAs as Development Tools
We reiterate that EPA negotiations should reflect the understanding and agreement in
the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that EPAs should serve as instruments for development
and poverty reduction. They must also support the deepening of intra-African trade. In this
regard, emphasis should be placed on the need for urgent and easily accessible substantial
additional resources for building supply capacity, infrastructure development, diversification,
competitiveness of African economies and to deal with anticipated adjustment costs.

2. Regional Integration and EPAs
We place emphasis on regional integration as a key objective for African countries and
realise that the process will continue well after the December 2007 deadline for conclusion of
EPA negotiations. The EPA negotiations need to be seen in this context and should be
supportive of this objective. Recognizing the limitations that overlapping membership to
multiple RECs might pose to the implementation and maximization of possible gains from the
EPAs, we request the RECs to urgently harmonise their trade integration policies before they
conclude and sign the EPAs.

3. Speed of Negotiations
We recognise the principles that governed the ACP countries position during the
Phase I of EPA negations and note that the different EPA groupings are moving at different
speeds. We recommend that the different EPA groupings should harmonise their positions
on issue of common interest before final decisions are taken.

4. The Role of the African Union Commission in Coordination of EPA Negotiations
We call on the Commission of the African Union to continue the implementation of the
mandate given it by the AU Summit in Maputo in 2003 to monitor, coordinate and harmonise
the EPA negotiations. The mechanism which has been established should include the
gathering and exchange of information on EPA negotiations among the RECs and also
identification of areas of common interest. We also call upon the RECs to give the AU
Commission the necessary support and cooperation by, inter-alia, submitting progress reports
on EPA negotiations.

5. Intra-African Trade Barriers
We note with concern that intra-African trade barriers continue to hinder regional
integration processes on the African continent. We commit ourselves to taking measures that
will lead to expeditious elimination of inter-REC and intra-REC trade barriers.

6. Asymmetry and Flexibilities in EPAs
We reiterate that Article XXIV of GATT needs to be appropriately amended to allow for
necessary special and differential treatment, less than full reciprocity principle and explicit
flexibilities that are consistent with the asymmetry required to make EPAs pro-development. Conclusions of the market access aspects of the EPAs should take place upon completion of
the amendment.

7. Market Entry Barriers and Capacity Building
We recognise the impact of SPS and TBT on market access to be an issue of major
concern to Africa and therefore recommend that non-health related rules and regulations
under SPS be reviewed before agreements. Adequate resources should be provided to build
capacity to meet the SPS and TBT requirements, which constitute non-tariff barriers to
Africa’s export trade.

8. Singapore Issues
We reaffirm the position of African countries that, except for trade facilitation, the other
three Singapore issues of investment, competition policy and transparency in Government
procurement should remain outside the ambit of the WTO Doha Work Programme / EPA

9. Intellectual Property Rights
We note that the African Group initiated the discussion on the clarification of flexibilities
in TRIPs, particularly in relation to patents and public health as well as biodiversity. We call
on African countries to take appropriate measures at the national level to make full use of
these flexibilities in line with the outcome of the AU Commission Workshop held in March
2005 in Addis Ababa. We call on the EU not to introduce in the EPA negotiations any TRIPs
plus proposals (which go beyond existing TRIPs obligations) which would compromise these
flexibilities. If such proposals are advanced, they should be rejected.

10. Articulation and Coherence at Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Negotiations
We emphasise the need for coherence in the positions taken in negotiations at the
multilateral, regional and bilateral levels and mandate the AU Commission to put in place
mechanisms to ensure this coherence.

11. AU Commission Collaboration with other relevant Organizations in further Work
We mandate the AU Commission to undertake in collaboration with other relevant
organizations further work on the following issues:

a) Adjustment costs in relation to de-industrialisation and revenue losses;
b) The treatment of EBA Scheme within the broader framework of EPAs;
c) Implications of the enlargement of the EU and the reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy, including the review of the Commodity Protocols; and
d) Mode 4 in Services.

We thank the Government and the People of the Republic of Egypt for the warm
hospitality extended to us and for the excellent facilities put at our disposal.

Done in Cairo, Egypt on 9th June 2005.

 source: AU