Brussels, 3 April 2015/ ACP: The ACP Group and the European Commission are finalising a date this year for the 13th Joint Ministerial Trade Committee meeting, which would bring together trade ministers and officials from across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific into discussions with the EU Trade Commissioner Ms. Cecilia Malmström.
This will be the first such meeting since the new Trade Commissioner took office.
The issue was agreed at the Joint Sub-Committee on Trade Cooperation on 27 March in Brussels. Co-chaired by the Ambassador of Togo to the EU, H.E Mr. Kokou Nayo M’beou and Director at the European Commission’s DG Trade Mr. Marc Vanheukelen, the sub-committee also considered several critical issues for trade cooperation between the ACP and EU countries.
Members reviewed the negotiations and implementation of the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), including the current state of play and future prospects, noting that regional trade talks had recently been concluded for West Africa (ECOWAS), Southern Africa (SADC) and the Eastern African Community. The EU set a deadline of October 2016 for signing, ratifying and implementing these set of EPAs. Discussions explored how to move forward on obstacles in the implementation of the full EPA with the Caribbean region (CARIFORUM) and the interim EPAs of the Pacific and Eastern & Southern Africa (ESA) regions.
The European Commission gave updates on the on-going negotiations with the United States under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as the implementation of the EU’s reformed GSP Scheme which entered into force on 1 January 2014. It was revealed that despite the anticipated benefits of the revised GSP scheme for ACP member states, including the Everything But Arms for Least Developed Countries, the utilisation of such schemes was only 23% on average.
The meeting also addressed technical aspects related to rules of origin, and market access and accompanying measures related to five key ACP commodities, namely sugar, bananas, cashew nuts, kava and cotton. Both sides exchanged views on the implementation of the outcomes from the 9th WTO ministerial meeting in Bali in 2013, and discussed preparations for the 10th meeting to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 15-18 December 2015.
The report of the Sub-Committee meeting will be tabled at the upcoming Joint ACP-EU Committee of Ambassadors scheduled for 17 April.
(Photo: Co-chairs of the ACP-EU Joint Sub-Committee on Trade, Togo's Ambassador Kokou Nayo M'beou and Director – DG Trade Mr. Marc Vanheukelen at ACP House last month)
– ACP Press