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EU, Cameroon Implement Economic Partnership Agreement

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

31 July 2014

The European Union (EU) and Cameroon are to implement an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that will give Cameroonian exports duty- and quota-free access to the European market.

In return, Cameroon will gradually open its market to European exports over a transitional period, set to run until 2023. A number of products will be excluded from the process, to ensure the protection of Cameroon's agricultural markets and industries.

The EPA also includes provisions on trade defence instruments, dispute settlement and development cooperation. It will provide greater security for Cameroon's exporters than the unilaterally set Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

The treaty will enter into force on August 4.

Negotiations were concluded in December 2007, and the agreement signed in January 2009. The European Parliament gave its approval in June 2013, and Cameroon notified the EU of its ratification on July 25 2014.

In 2000, the EU, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries agreed to negotiate trade and development agreements under the terms of the Cotonou Agreement. The EU and Central Africa - Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, São Tome é Principe and Chad - began talks in October 2003.

However, it became clear that it would not be possible to finalize negotiations in all the ACP countries before the end of the Cotonou regime for ACP exports to the EU on December 31 2007. As a result, a series of interim agreements were concluded.

According to the European Commission, this interim EPA with Cameroon must therefore be seen as the first step in a wider and more complete partnership. It is open to the other countries in the Central Africa region, should they wish to accede to it.

The Commission says that a full-scale EPA could go beyond trade in goods, and cover services and investment, sustainable development, competition, trade facilitation and transparency in public procurement. The interim agreement contains clauses which allow for these subjects to be negotiated at a later stage.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: 'The economic partnership agreement with Cameroon is ushering a new era in relations between the EU and Central Africa. The EPA is one of the main cooperation tools to provide assistance to developing countries such as Cameroon in expanding their economies. I would very much encourage other countries in the region to join Cameroon in the EU Central Africa EPA in order to build a partnership suited to Central Africa's development goals.'

TAGS: Chad | tax | investment | European Commission | free trade agreement (FTA) | tariffs | trade treaty | Congo, Republic of the | agreements | tax rates | Cameroon | Central African Republic | Congo, Democratic Republic of the | Equatorial Guinea | Gabon | Guinea | import duty | tax reform | trade | European Union (EU) | services | Europe | Africa

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