Wednesday, October 10, 2007

African Countries should move slowly in Service Trade Talks with EU

OCTOBER 2007 (IPS) - The outcome of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, set for this December, will change a decades-old reciprocal trading regime between the European Union and African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries. Specifically, negotiations on trade in services under the EPAs have important development implications for Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries, writes Joy Kategekwa, programme officer for trade in services at the South Centre's Trade for Development Programme.

In this article, the author writes that the EU is seeking "most favoured nation" status for its service suppliers in the ESA region, which would not only give EU companies unlimited access to the ESA market on terms similar to those enjoyed by ESA countries, in the context of their various regional integration initiatives, but also automatic access to the treatment that ESA countries give to all other trading partners, with whom they have services economic integration agreements, or with whom, the ESA process of liberalisation has led to some form of services liberalisation.

In making national treatment commitments for the EU, ESA countries lose the ability to retain any measures that favor local/ESA service suppliers, over EU ones. In sum, the outcome of the EPA on services, along the lines proposed by the EU,would bar ESA countries from implementing certain policy instruments or regulations that could increase the participation of local services suppliers particularly in the context of intra-regional trade.

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