PRC sees EPA talks dragging beyond 2007

Accra- Ghana (PANA) – The talks on the economic pa-rtnership with the European Union (EU) cannot be completed by the end of this year, according to the final report of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the African Union, a copy of which PANA obtained Thursday in Accra.
The PRC, which closed its proceedings late Wednesday night after three days of deliberations, reaffirmed the decision taken by the heads of state and government of the African Union at their summit last January in Addis Ababa.
They had deemed it necessary to extend the talks with the EU after 31 December 2007.
The Cotonou partnership accord provided that the negotiations between the EU and Africa should be concluded no later than 31 December 2007, for the EPAs to be effective as soon as 1 January 2008.
But, according to the report of the Commission on the progress of the EPA talks, "the discussions are now at a crucial stage, and all the negotiating African regions and groups are under EU pressure to conclude the negotiations despite the fact that relevant answers have not been found for some key issues".
The unsettled issues include the supply of relevant capital in addition to the financial support under the European Development Fund (EDF), in order to accelerate the transformation of the African economies and to build the countries' supply and trading capacity.
The PRC also underscored the need to fund the EPA-related readjustment codes.
The PRC report emphasised Africa's difficulties to conduct the EPA negotiations.
Also, the authors of the report emphasised that the EPA conclusions should include the interests and concerns of the developing countries, in the sense that the EPAs are understood as development instruments.
For some PRC members, it is imperative to export African products to EU markets rather than only following the European position.
In this respect, the report said, as the AU was charged with coordinating the EPA negotiations, this process should be advised".
In other words, the AU should not only wait for the African economic communities to invite it to attend their meetings.

29 june 2007 22:01:00




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