‘Prickly’ issues must be resolved before signing EPAs

Zambia Daily Mail

‘Prickly’ issues must be resolved before signing EPAs

By Nancy Mwape

17 January 2013

Government will continue negotiating with an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) in an effort to resolve the contentious issues before signing the agreement.

The European Commission has set January 2014 as the new deadline for completion of EPA process for countries to maintain the current free access to the EU.

Responding to a press query, Commerce Trade and Industry permanent secretary Stephen Mwansa said it is important that contentious issues are resolved before signing the agreement.

Mr Mwansa said it would not be beneficial for Zambia to sign an agreement that would not respond to the priorities and support the development needs of the country.

“It is worth noting that EPA negotiations should have been concluded in 2007. However, there are a number of issues that both negotiating parties are not agreeable for inclusion in the agreement that are holding the conclusion of the negotiations,” he said.

He said there need to agree on substantially all trade, transitional period thresholds focusing on how much to liberalise the markets, when to liberalise, export taxes, Most Favoured Nation and development benchmarks.

He said there is need for additional resources from the EU for the Eastern and Southern Africa countries to assist with the adjustment during EPA implementation.

Zambia has been negotiating the EPA negotiations under the ESA configuration since September 2002 and negotiations are still ongoing.
Mr Mwansa said the benefits of signing an EPA are that Zambia would continue to export to Europe duty free and quota free even when Zambia graduates from the status of a least developed country (LDC) to developing country.

Zambia as an LDC is exporting to Europe under the duty free and quota free basis through the Everything But Arms initiative, offered by the EU only to LDC countries.

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