The ACP Council of Ministers,
Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, from 16th to 18th June 2014,
A. HAVING received updates on the EPA process in the seven EPA regional configurations, and having deliberated on the issues raised therein;
B. RECALLING that the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and European Union (EU) set out to negotiate Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which were meant to be “instruments for development” contributing to poverty reduction, sustainable development, regional integration, spurring trade and integration into the world economy;
C. CONCERNED that, in spite of numerous presentations by the ACP side, the EU proceeded to amend the EC Regulation 1528/2007 that will result in the withdrawal of a group of ACP States from market access benefits with effect from 1 October 2014, if those countries have not concluded the EPAs or taken considerable steps towards ratifications of the interim EPAs;
D. CONCERNED that EPA negotiations, although making some progress, in some regions, are still encumbered with lack of convergence on important areas, despite the goodwill and flexibility demonstrated by the ACP side;
E. CONCERNED that negotiating meetings have not been convened with certain regions for up to three years due to unilateral conditions being set by the EU side;
F. CONCERNED that the EU has remained intransigent on key issues, mainly of interest to the EU, some of which are not related to trade, in spite of the looming deadline unilaterally imposed by the EU side;
G. CONCERNED that contentious issues still remain including in the areas of definition of substantially all trade (SAT) and time frames for liberalization, rules of origin, MFN clause, export taxes, trade distorting domestic and export subsidies, additionality of resources, quantitative restrictions, relations with countries that are in a customs union with the European Union (including Turkey, St Martin and Andorra), development of benchmarks, indicators and targets for monitoring the implementation of the agreements and non-execution clause;
H. CONCERNED still that interim arrangements proposed by the EU on the liberalization of trade in goods were initialed and later signed with individual or small groups of ACP States and this continues to create rifts and hamper integration in the ACP regions concerned;
I. NOTING the progress and challenges in the implementation of the EU-Caribbean EPA and the EU-ESA and EU-Papua New Guinea interim Economic Partnership Agreements;
J. CONCERNED about the excessive tariffs and duties imposed under the Octroi de mer that range between 3 – 60 percent of CIF value on products imported into OCTs in respect of which France has requested extension until 2020 and which adversely affect the competitiveness of ACP exports from EPA signatories;
1. Stresses the need to urgently and satisfactorily resolve challenges in the interim agreements and forge convergence in other areas of negotiations in order to facilitate finalization of EPAs that will truly benefit ACP States.
2. Appeals to the EU to exercise genuine and maximum flexibility so that outstanding aspects of the negotiations are resolved and an agreement that is mutually beneficial is reached.
3. Emphasises that ACP’s exports could not negatively impact the huge EU market and therefore calls on the EU to take account of the level of economic development of its ACP partners with a view to concluding an inclusive and development oriented EPA that will support regional integration and attract joining by all States within a given region.
4. Calls on the EU to seriously consider delaying implementation of the unilateral deadline set through the amendment to Market Access Regulation 1528/2007, inorder to ensure that ACP exports are not adversely affected;
5. Urges the EC to refrain from introducing new issues that are unrelated to trade in the EPA negotiations;
6. Calls on the EU to take into account the concerns of the EU-ESA and EU-Caribbean signatories when examining the application for extension submitted by France in respect of octroi de mer.
7. Instructs the President of Council to forward this resolution to the European Commission, Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.
Nairobi, 19 June 2014