ACP states reject EU trade ultimatum

KIGALI - The 10th ordinary session of the parliamentary assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries has rejected the European Union’s call for the group to sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by December 31.In a meeting in Kigali yesterday, ACP member states decided not to bow to the EU pressure, insisting that they were not ready to enter a new trade agreement.
The Vice Chair of ACP Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade, MP Boyce Sebetela from Botswana (left) and ACP co-Chair, Senator Jean Marie Everistus from Saint Lucia at the meeting at Kigali Serena Hotel yesterday. (Photo/G. Barya)
The Vice Chair of ACP Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade, MP Boyce Sebetela from Botswana (left) and ACP co-Chair, Senator Jean Marie Everistus from Saint Lucia at the meeting at Kigali Serena Hotel yesterday. (Photo/G. Barya)

KIGALI - The 10th ordinary session of the parliamentary assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries has rejected the European Union’s call for the group to sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by December 31. In a meeting in Kigali yesterday, ACP member states decided not to bow to the EU pressure, insisting that they were not ready to enter a new trade agreement.

ACP is composed of 106 countries.

Consequently, they drafted a document titled ‘Draft Kigali Declaration” which is due to be presented to the 14th session of the ACP-European Union joint parliamentary assembly in Kigali on Friday.

The declaration urges the European Commission to give the ACP countries more time to assess the implication of deal before signing.

Rwanda’s Senate Vice President, Prosper Higiro, said that ACP countries still need more time to study the deal before endorsing it.

“The EU is putting us under pressure to sign this agreement before we are ready for it but we have decided to reject it until all ACP countries are ready,” Higiro said.

He added: “The EU is under pressure from the World Trade Organisation to have these agreements, so they have decided to transfer the pressure on us; members have agreed not to sign the agreement until all ACP states are ready for a new trade deal with the EU,” he said.

The EU has threatened to increase tariffs of its export goods by January 1, 2008 should ACP members refuse to comply.
The declaration indicates that such a threat would affect lives on millions in ACP countries.

Meanwhile, the ACP co-chairperson, Senator Jean Marie Everistus, said: “There is a big possibility that the EU will reject our report but if they do, then will we have to elect and go by the vote of the majority.”

Everistus, who is also the Deputy President of Saint Lucia Senate, however added that majority of MPs in EU member states understand the position of ACP states.

But the Kigali declaration hails the European Commission’s decision in April this year for quota free market access that waived residual market barrier to ACP exports.

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