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Extended access to EU markets for African, Caribbean and Pacific exporters welcomed by Irish Presidency

17.04.2013, 13:30 GMT

Ministers Richard Bruton (Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation) and Joe Costello (Trade and Development) today welcomed the European Parliament’s agreement to an Irish Presidency proposal to extend by nine months until 1st October 2014 the preferential trade access provided to 17 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

A European Commission proposal, tabled in 2011, to amend the Market Access Regulation governing the trade conditions for developing countries which have negotiated Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU, had foreseen an earlier deadline of 1st January 2014.      

Minister Costello said:

“I have liaised closely with my colleague Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation who led the negotiations at the EU.   This decision will allow for a renewed focus on the conclusion and implementation of Economic Partnership Agreements to enhance growth, generate jobs and support African, Caribbean and Pacific countries’ development needs and poverty reduction efforts.   I support a negotiating approach that is as flexible as possible under World Trade Organisation (WTO) law and underlines the importance of a strong partnership approach.”

Minister Bruton said:

“I am pleased that, as EU Council Presidency, Ireland has successfully brought this issue of an extension for preferential trade access to a timely conclusion.   This decision provides clarity and legal certainty for business people in these developing countries, helping them maintain and expand their participation in world markets.   This outcome will put the EU’s trade regime with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries on a fair and solid legal footing.”

Both Ministers noted that the negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements began in 2002 and looked forward to African Caribbean and Pacific countries in due course joining and concluding Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU.

Minister Costello said:

“Many of the countries involved here are recipients of Irish development assistance that will further help them develop their economies and improve their competitiveness.  The EU and its Member States are the largest provider of Aid for Trade in the world, despite the current economic crisis.   In 2010, they accounted for around a third of the total in committing some €10.7 billion.   The EU has started working on the allocation of its development aid for the period 2014 – 2020. Most of the ACP countries have made significant economic progress over the last decade. The time is ripe for our partners to reflect on their trade needs in their priorities with the EU.”

Minister Bruton said:

“These Agreements contain generous market access provisions.   Coupled with measures to help countries participate in the global trading system such as “aid for trade” and other initiatives to help them achieve their export potential, it will take our development assistance to a new level.   It will open a new era for developing countries and their fast growing enterprise sectors.” 


Note for editors

  • EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are trade and development agreements which take account of ACP socio-economic circumstances and include co-operation and assistance to help ACP countries to implement the Agreements.
  • Negotiations for EPAs began in 2002 and at the end of 2007, in order to meet a World Trade Organisation deadline and thus avoid trade disruption, 36 ACP countries signed either a full or interim EPA.   The 2007 Market Access Regulation allowed exports from these 36 countries to continue to enter the EU duty free and quota free on the basis that a country could be removed where it indicated that it intended not to ratify its full or interim EPA or where ratification had not taken place within a reasonable timeframe.   The 2011 proposal from the European Commission would have seen duty free and quota free market access under an EPA withdrawn from 17 countries by 1st January 2014 if they had not taken the necessary steps to ratify or conclude an EPA by then.   The 17 countries are Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, the Comoros, Fiji, Ghana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.  
  • Negotiations for full regional EPAs are ongoing with African and Pacific countries.

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Cian Connaughton, Media Enquiries




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