Zambia declines to sign EPAs

EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton

EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton

Commerce Minister Felix Mutati has declined to sign the interim Economic Partnership agreement with the European Union (EU).
Zambia was supposed to sign the interim EPA with EU together with Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar on Saturday.
But Mr. Mutati who is in Mauritius where the signing took place is said to have declined at the last minute.
The Minister asked the EU trade commissioner to simplify the language in the agreement.
But the countries who signed today called for tariffs on European goods to be removed over the next 15 years. The southeast African countries have had full access to the EU consumer market since 2008 but trade barriers on rice and sugar are being removed gradually. However, the new deal does not include trade on agricultural products such as milk, meat, vegetables, textiles, footwear, and clothing. Zambia and Comoros have indicated that at a later date they will sign the pact as well. Poor developing nations, such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi etc., do not currently pay tariffs on exports to the EU but may also join the pact. Catherine Ashton, an EU trade commissioner, said that the new interim deal would help countries of eastern and southern Africa in creating a single regional trade pact that would eventually cover trade in services, investment, and protection for emerging industries.

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