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Developing Countries And EU: “All Have A Dog In The Fight”

  • May 26th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

africa-day-07.jpgDeveloping country leaders made a change of tune on Friday (25.5.07), a day after voicing fears that European trade rules might be getting turned against them.

Ministers from 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries met their European counterparts at Brussels, to take forward the negotiation of new trade and aid agreements, due for completion this year.

They are being asked to make separate Economic Development Partnerships with the European Union, and on Thursday were demanding public reassurances that these would not jeopardise standing undertakings, under an existing collective treaty called the Cotonou agreement.

Ministers said they had to judge the benefit of a new offer, to remove taxes on nearly all of their imports into Europe, against reciprocal access to their own markets for EU goods and services.

They were concerned very small states including so-called micro-states in the Pacific should not be heavily disadvantaged by unequal deals.

They appeared to have been given reassurances they wanted by the time of a concluding joint media conference with the Europeans late on Friday.

The ACP Chairman, Mohlabi K. Tsekoa, from Lesotho, said he could report with a “deep sense of delight and satisfaction” on the fruitful outcome of talks – showing a strong partnership.

Asked if he’d received satisfactory answers to questions he was asking about the scope of new agreements and future market access, he was positive:

“Absolutely yes; the European Union side went at length to address our concerns.

“I am satisfied that together we shall achieve results, as the EU takes into account and is looking after our concerns.

“These are tough negotiations but their importance is recognised and both sides are determined to persevere,” he said.

Lt. General M. Merafhe, the Botswana Foreign Minister, supported the theme of a negotiating partnership, neither side dominant.

“We all have a dog in the fight,” he said.

“All have an interest in this process and are interested in a successful conclusion.”

African delegates appreciated a decision by the EU to make available money from a development fund to help pay for peace keeping moves in the Darfur region of Sudan, and in Somalia

This money would begin with EU100-million (A$164.12-million; already committed, with another EU300-million (A$492.38-million) available as a reserve.

Picture: The European Commission proclaimed 25.5.07 “Africa Day” 25.5.07; supporters of development aid projects welcomed the Ghanian President, John Agyefum Kufuor, Chairman of the African Union.