Negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreement still on-Sampa

Deputy Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry Mr Miles Sampa says negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) are still ongoing.
Mr Sampa told the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers in Brussels, Belgium that the full and comprehensive negotiations which stalled since 2011 are expected to resume soon.
Zambia chairs the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region on EPA. Mr Sampa informed the Council that ESA countries were not at the same level of preparedness to submit market access offers, thus negotiations with the European Union would be carried out on the principle of variable geometry.
“At the last ESA-EPA Council of Ministers held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 27th March, 2015, the Council gave the necessary political guidance for the way forward for the negotiations,” he said.
Mr Sampa said therefore, the Council of Ministers requested ESA member states to come up with a critical number of new market access offers by the end of May 2015.
“Council further decided that an ESA Ministerial consultative meeting should be held on the margins of the COMESA/EAC/SADC tripartite summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt to revive the state of play and decide on the way forward. The outcome of the consultative meeting in Sharm-El-Sheikh will be communicated through our Ambassadors and government communication channels,” Mr Sampa said.
ESA and EU have been negotiating EPAs for the past couple of years.
The main objectives of the negotiations are that EPAs would be an instrument for sustainable development; support regional integration among ESA member states; be compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules; taking into account the different needs and levels of development of ESA member states.
The main areas under negotiations are development cooperation, market access on trade in goods, services, agriculture, fisheries, trade-related issues, dispute avoidance and settlement as well as institutional provisions.

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