A Difficult Start for Cotonou
23.09.2003: One Year of Negotiations on new EU-ACP Regional Trade Agreements
Conference on the 22. October 2003 in Berlin
One year ago, in September 2002, the European Union and the 79 countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) launched negotiations on new trade agreements under the Cotonou framework. The Cotonou agreement foresees the conclusion of so-called ‘Economic Partnership Agree-ments‘ (EPAs) between the EU and ACP regions until January 2008. So far little progress has been made. While the ACP group strives to conclude the first round of negotiations by signing a binding framework agreements that includes both trade and developments aspects of the new regional trade agreements, the EU considers the first phase mainly to clarify rules and procedural issues of the negotiations on the regional level. The EU would like to consider the main themes raised by the ACP group, namely market access, agriculture, services, questions relating to development, trade-related issues and legal questions, only in the upcoming regional negotiations. Current disagree-ment on the themes for negotiation reflects the diverging interests of the negotiating parties and has hindered substantial progress in the implementation of the Cotonou principles.
At the eve of regional negotiations the organisers want to summarise what has been achieved so far, to examine the positions of the EU Commission, the ACP countries and the German govern-ment, and to evaluate the relevance of the failure of the Cancún WTO ministerial conference for regional trade agreements. In particular in the light of the temporary failure of multilateral trade negotiations regional and bilateral processes have re-ceived added attention. The meeting thus aims to clarify the role regional trade agreements could play towards the aims of poverty eradication and sustainable development in ACP countries. Problems that surfaced on the regional configuration African ACP countries will assume during the negotiations will also be addressed during the conference. Participants will discuss the importance of effective civil society participation, both in the South and North, to make EU ACP trade agreements work for a truly fair and sustainable partnership. By addressing issues of concern the organisers hope to contribute to a broad public debate on the future of European trade policy and to address political expectations and requirements to political decision makers in Berlin and Brussels.
When? Wednesday, 22. October 2003
Where? Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Hiroshimastr. 17, D-10785 Berlin (Download how to get there as PDF file)
Registration? Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Mrs. Roswitha Kiewitt, Hiroshimastr. 17, D-10785 Berlin, Fax +49 (0)30 2693 5959
Conference language is German, English translation is provided.
The conference programme can be downloaded as PDF file.