Monday, December 10, 2007

Body Count: AU-EU Summit post mortem: The EPAs

After two days of answering questions on democracy, Human Rights and the always sour Robert Mugabe, African and European leaders got down to discuss business. Or, make that trade talks.

Calling them illegal, the World Trade Organization claimed the so-called preferential trade agreements between 27 European Union and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries must be dismantled by the end of the year. The European Union would like to put in their place a set of Economic Partnership Agreements, covering agriculture and industrial goods, services and competition policies.

A block of East African countries recently signed an EPA Call it new boldness exhibited by African leaders or constructive criticism against all-out free trade, but most African states have held firm against EPAs, and these tough negotiations boiled over into the negotiations during the two-day EU-AU Summit in Lisbon.

From Blomberg News: "I want it to be clear that Africa refuses'' the current European trade proposals, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade told a press conference at the meeting in Lisbon today. ``We want to have a rapport, but we have to define this together.''

"We've been negotiating for months,'' German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. ``We must certainly see if Europe can be more flexible and if Africa can be more flexible. The African states have in some cases very different interests, as do the Europeans. We don't have the kind of time to say we'll simply wait for another two years.''

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