Brussels, 1 May 2012/ ACP/ CPTM: An afternoon of ‘Think Tanking’ discussions at the ACP House this Wednesday will tackle some of the difficulties in ACP-EU free trade, with a focus on how “smart partnership approaches” and higher quality standards can energise trade between nations.

Co-organised by the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management (CPTM), ACP Ambassadors and the European Commission, the session brings together representatives from several ACP nations and experts on trade and “smart partnership” – an approach based on the frank, informal, professional sharing of experiences and opinions.

Speakers include the ACP Secretary General, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas; Alan Bryden, immediate former Secretary-General of ISO and Chair of the CPTM Smart Partnership Quality and Standards Inclusion Initiative, Ambassador of Uganda to the EU H.E Stephen Katenta-Apuli, and Head of CPTM Dr Mihaela Y Smith.

A special session will be dedicated to Ambassadors from the Caribbean regions and from the Eastern and Southern Africa region (ESA) to share experiences on challenges and opportunities for the implementation of free trade measures housed in the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with Europe. EPAs have been negotiated between Europe and ACP regional blocks since 2002, but only one block – the 15 Caribbean countries – have since concluded a full EPA.

The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) will also make a presentation on the likely impacts of the withdrawal of the European Council’s Market Access Regulation 1528 to EPA negotiations. The European Commission’s proposed to amend the regulation last September could potentially lead to some ACP countries losing their preferential trade access to Europe. The matter is up for vote in the European Parliament this June.

– ACP Press