ACP Inter-Regional Organisations Coordination CommitteeEuropean UnionPress Releases

EU Development Ministers Enlightened on ACP Issues

The informal meeting of EU Development Ministers and the Informal ACP-EU Dialogue took place on 12-13 March 2007 in Petersberg near Bonn. The purpose of these meetings, which were chaired by German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, was to discuss the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Region.

One of the primary issues under discussion was the relationship between the EPA and the mitigation of development challenges. The Hon. Dame Billie Miller Senior Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados and CARIFORUM Ministerial Spokesperson on EPAs, while addressing this issue during the Informal ACP-EU Ministerial Dialogue, indicated that it was necessary to address the ACP countries’ challenge in overcoming supply side constraints that impede their ability to take advantage of trade opportunities. The Minister indicated that the inclusion of a chapter on development in the EPA was considered necessary by CARIFORUM to overcome such constraints. She confirmed that the region has been successful in persuading the EU Commission on this point.
She also acknowledged that instead of merely asking for additional resources, it has become necessary for CARIFORUM to articulate specifically the development needs of the region which would require technical and financial assistance from the EU.  She elaborated that to this end CARIFORUM has undertaken objective assessment studies which are designed to prioritize needs and the development projects which are intended to facilitate sustainable development. This process incorporates, inter alia, considerations such as trade development measures, trade regulatory capacity building and competitiveness and innovation.
As the CRNM Director General indicated this meeting with the EU Development Ministers was useful and productive in that it allowed the ACP to meet with the most empathetic constituents within the EU and also provided opportunity to acquaint the full complement of EU membership with the development issues confronting the ACP.
Other ACP issues raised included Market Access, Agriculture, simplification of the rules of origin, Aid–for–Trade as it relates to EPA implementation, and the support of Regional Development Funds within the ACP.

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