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Africa, Caribbean, Pacific | Brussels, 30 January 2014

Commissioner Karel De Gucht and East African ministers meet to discuss the EPA

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht today meets with Ministers of the East African Community (EAC) countries to provide political guidance to the negotiators in the final stages of the EU-EAC talks. The discussions being held today in Brussels are aimed at helping find solutions to the outstanding issues and paving the way to closing the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Many chapters of the future agreement have already been completed, including facilitation of customs procedures, food hygiene matters, technical barriers to trade and development co-operation. During the latest negotiating round in Arusha (Tanzania) in July 2013, negotiators agreed to refer to Ministers for political guidance.

Background

The East African Community – bringing together the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda - is one of the seven regional groupings that have been involved in the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU. The EPA negotiations are based on the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and aim to put in place a long-term economic partnership centred on the development of the EU's partner countries. This includes duty free, quota free access to EU market, along with other provisions (e.g. on health and hygiene standards, and other trade-related rules) tailored to the needs of the ACP countries.

In 2007 EAC countries and the EU closed negotiations on an interim (framework) EPA covering mainly trade in goods which EAC declined to sign. The agreement currently being negotiated is a regional EPA aiming to establish a stable and sustainable economic partnership based on reciprocal but asymmetrical trade liberalisation that takes account of the development needs of the EU's EAC partners.

The EU is an important market for East African Community products including coffee, cut flowers, tea, tobacco, fish and vegetables worth altogether €2.2 billion a year. At the same time, the EU supplies the region with the necessary mechanical equipment, vehicles and pharmaceutical products.

For more information

EU relations with east Africa Community

Economic Partnership Agreements