GIS – 07 February, 2018: A Brainstorming Meeting on the deepening of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) opened this morning at the Voilà Hotel Bagatelle, in Moka.
The one-day event, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, is bringing together delegates from the five iEPA signatory States, that is, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.
In his opening remarks, the Director, International Trade Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Sunil Boodhoo, indicated that the meeting being held is a two-legged one, that is, the present one focusing on the deepening of the iEPA, while the second one scheduled over the next two days will bring together high officials from the Eastern and Southern African States (ESA) and the UK for discussions.
The objectives are two-fold, Mr Boodhoo highlighted, namely: for the first meeting, to prepare to negotiate with the European Union (EU) so as to deepen the existing iEPA; and, for the second meeting, to hold talks with the UK to transpose the current existing iEPA into an arrangement between ESA and the UK to ensure continuity and preserve access on the UK trade market after Brexit.
The Director recalled that already two consultations have been held with the UK and a broad agreement has been reached with regards to the changes that may have to be brought to the existing iEPA so that it is customised into an agreement between ESA and the EU. This is important because we need to send a very strong signal to the business and export community so that they are aware that once UK leaves EU there will be no disruptions to trade, and, so at least we will trade with the UK on the same basis as we are trading now with the EU, he emphasised. For the sake of predictability, it is important for us to do that before the UK leaves the EU to ensure continuity of trade and ensure that there is absolutely no disruptions, Mr Boodhoo added.
Mauritius, along with three ESA namely Seychelles, Madagascar and Zimbabwe signed an iEPA with the EU on 14 May 2012. Comoros signed the Agreement in June 2017.
At the last Economic Partnership Agreement committee held in October 2017 in Madagascar, the EU and the five iEPA Signatory states agreed to deepen and widen the IEPA. Accordingly, both sides have prepared scoping papers which are expected to be discussed in due course.
The Mauritius’s brainstorming meeting aims at finalising ESA’s position with respect to the priority areas for discussions with the EU. The objective is also to examine EU’s scoping paper so as to find areas of convergence between the two positions.
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