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East Africa: Six Countries to Ink EPA Deal

Times of Zambia

East Africa: Six Countries to Ink EPA Deal

25 August 2009

Six Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries will this Saturday sign the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) in Mauritius.

The interim EPA would be signed on August 29, 2009 between EU and Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Speaking during a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (Comesa) chief of technical advisor on EPAs for ESA Moses Tekere said Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Felix Mutati would sign on behalf of Zambia.

Trade commissioner Baroness Catherine Ashton would sign for the EU. Dr Tekere said the agreement was expected to create a long-term economic relationship between the EU and African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

"Zambia is among six ESA countries to sign this EPA agreement with EU.The agreement aims to enhance trade, investment and development aid with the EU," Dr Tekere said.

In the framework of the interim EPA, the EPA grants full access to the European market with temporary exceptions for rice and sugar while the ESA countries would liberate partially and in phases over 15 years.

Dr Tekere said the EPA for the ESA region includes the provisions for the development cooperation and fisheries. He said since independence, several Comesa countries depended on the EU to market their products although the trade relationship was not so effective in the past years.

He said it was for this reason that in 2007, Comesa member States started negotiations with the EU to facilitate smooth trade partnership.

"The 2007 negotiations between ESA and the EU is the one to be signed in Mauritius by these six ESA countries with the EU to enhance the trade relationship," Dr Tekere said.

He said Zambia would benefit a lot from the agreement as it would have its trade markets open to the EU member States through the duty free trade policy.

Dr Tekere said Zambia, being a booming producer of sugar would have an opportunity to export its product to the EU thereby increasing its trade capacity.