Africa: Europe Trade Pacts Offer New Challenges, Opportunities

source: allAfrica

4 February 2008
Posted to the web 4 February 2008

Peter Draper

New trade agreements with Europe have raised legitimate fears for the future of African industry but offer new potential for two-way trade, buttressed by aid and “aid for trade” packages. Now trade talks turn to even more contentious issues, such as investment, intellectual property and trade in services, writes Peter Draper in the first of a new series of regular columns for <i>AllAfrica</i> from experts of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

The first phase of re-ordering Africa’s trade relations with Europe is over. Interim Economic Partnership Agreements (IEPAs) between the European Union and African countries had to be signed by December 20 to take advantage of a World Trade Organisation waiver which allowed EU countries to give their former colonies preferential access to its goods market.

African countries trading with Europe now fall into the following categories:

* 26 are regarded as “least-developed countries” (LDCs) in whose favour WTO members are allowed to discriminate. These countries have duty-free access to the EU, with no obligation to reciprocate, under Europe’s “Everything But Arms” preference scheme;
* 18 (including 8 LDCs) signed the interim agreements. They will enjoy the same access to the EU market as LDCs, but are obliged to open [continue reading]

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