GIS – November 27, 2013: A Workshop to validate the National Development Matrix under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) opened this morning at the Le Opium Restaurant, Audi Zentrum, in Réduit.
Organised as a joint initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade with the COMESA Secretariat, the workshop is bringing together around 40 participants from different Ministries and the private sector.
The Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries are currently negotiating a full EPA with the EU. The Agreement contains several commitments and cooperation areas covering trade in goods and services and trade-related issues, amongst others. Resources will have to be mobilised in order to enable ESA countries to implement these commitments.
The COMESA Secretariat has appointed a national consultant in each ESA country to carry out a National Needs Assessment to identify support required to implement the EPA. Ms Raifa Bhundun from GIST Consulting LTD has been appointed to conduct this national exercise. The workshop will validate the needs that have been identified and the related costs for their implementation.
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Director of the International Trade Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr. N. Boodhoo, explained that Mauritius is negotiating a full EPA with the EU within the ESA configuration but is currently implementing an Interim Agreement since May 2012. Today’s workshop, said Mr Boodhoo, has as objective to validate our requirements to implement the Agreement.
The importance to identify all requirements and making an assessment of what is being done or what has been done already as well as identifying gaps were issues highlighted by the Deputy Director. So far there have been a number of meetings with relevant stakeholders on the needs required.
The Interim Agreement signed by Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and the EU in 2009, is the first Economic Partnership Agreement to be implemented in Africa. This constitutes a major achievement in relations between Africa and the EU.
The iEPA establishes a stable and predictable trade partnership for the development of EU’s partners in the region. It is open to other ESA countries.
The Agreement consolidates the duty free and quota-free market access which the EU offers to all exports from the four ESA States. The ESA countries involved will gradually open their market over a period of 15 years, to EU exports with some exceptions for products that ESA countries consider sensitive. Limited transitory periods were agreed for sugar up to 2015. The Agreement also contains provisions concerning rules of origin, development cooperation, fisheries, trade defence instruments and dispute settlement.
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