GIS - 02 OCtober, 2019: The launching of the negotiations on the deepening of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) marks a major milestone and opens a new chapter in the historical relationship between the European Union (EU) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) States, stretching over long years of political and economic cooperation.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External
Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement, today, at the
launching of negotiations on the deepening of the IEPA between the EU and five ESA
Member States, namely Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe
at the Maritim Resort, Turtle Bay, Balaclava.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Jugnauth stated
deepening of the IEPA is imperative to keep pace with new trade and investment
patterns in a constantly evolving global competitive environment and today’s
trend is to invest in innovation and digital enhancements so as to shape
national developments. The five ESA Member States, he said, take pride for
being the first African countries to implement an interim EPA with the EU, he
The Prime Minister further pointed out that in a
world faced with daunting challenges whereby multilateralism is being
undermined, it becomes crucial to fully integrate the global value chains to
establish a solid and diversified economic base. He observed that the Interim
EPA has well served its purpose to enlarge the scope of market access and to
significantly improve the rules that determine the origin of several key
products. However, he said, exports from the ESA signatory states have dropped
by 7% since 2009.
He added that it is therefore important to take
measures so as to reverse the trend and come up with a new form of partnership
that contributes meaningfully to meeting these challenges as well as an
agreement that helps to transform economies and take fundamental essential
Moreover, Prime Minister Jugnauth elaborated on the
five key objectives that Mauritius wants to achieve through the deepening of
the IEPA. They comprise an Agreement that will step up the competitiveness of
the industries and diversification of trade and which should contain a mechanism
to support business by reviewing non-tariff measures and solutions to overcome
trade obstacles. The Agreement should also reflect the needs for both ESA and
EU businesses to improve access to service market and modernisation of the Development
Cooperation Chapter. Furthermore, the IEPA should contribute towards a stronger
region both economically and politically through increased intra-ESA trade.
On a concluding note, the Prime Minister highlighted
that deepening the IEPA should go hand in hand with the overarching development
of ESA Governments while adding that a win-win situation should be the result
of the negotiations.
For his part, Minister Bodha, recalled that the
foundation of the EPA for the region was already laid by the successful
negotiation of the IEPA which has been operational since 2012. With regard to
the negotiations that the ESA countries are embarking upon, he stated that it
is a technically complex one and will encompass some 13 different areas
including Trade in Services, Investment, Competition Policy, Agriculture,
Intellectual Property, Sustainable Development and Development cooperation.
Besides creating opportunities on the EU market,
Minister Bodha emphasised the importance of creating a platform to capitalise
on the African Continental Fee Trade Agreement while highlighting that the EPA
should become an economic bridge between Europe and Africa.
In her video message, the European Commissioner for
Trade, Mrs Cecilia Malmström, reiterated her full support to new challenges and
stated that the deepening of this agreement will boost bilateral trade and
investment flows and will contribute to the creation of jobs and economic
growth while promoting sustainable development.
agreement for negotiating roadmap
A Joint Communiqué was signed
by both the EU and ESA Officials during the ceremony to formalise the agreement
reached at officials’ level in May 2019 on the scope and objectives of the
deepening negotiations as well as on the negotiating roadmap.
were the EU Deputy Director General of DG Trade, Ms Helene König; the Minister of
Public Infrastructure and Land Transport, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional
Integration and International Trade, Mr Nandcoomar Bodha, the
Minister of Industry, Trade and Crafts of the Republic of Madagascar, Mrs
Lantosoa Rakotomalala, the Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles, Mrs Beryl
Samson; the Special Advisor of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mr Stuart Harold Comberbach;
and the Director of the Office of the Minister of the Economy of the Union of
Comoros, Mr Said Abdou Salime.
Following the launching ceremony, the first ESA-EU
technical meeting will be held from 03 to 04 October 2019.
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