Aid for trade Brussels 3 April 2009
Aid for Trade and EPAs: Commissioner Ashton in Zambia
EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton will visit the Zambian capital Lusaka from the 5th to 7th April, to participate in a round table on Aid for Trade as part of a North-South Corridor financing conference. Donors, International Financial Institutions, and representatives of Eastern and Southern African governments and regional organisations will decide on further assistance to remove infrastructure constraints blocking trade and economic growth in the region.
The European Commission will join other international partners including the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the UK government. While in Lusaka, Commissioner Ashton will also meet with trade ministers from the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) group in order to push forward the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) process in the region.
Speaking ahead of the Aid for Trade conference on the 6th of April, Commissioner Ashton said: "In this economic crisis we must do everything we can to facilitate trade as a source of growth and jobs. The North-South Corridor initiative is a perfect example of how targeted funding can remove barriers to trade caused by poor infrastructure and cumbersome regulation."
On the support by the European Commission for the North-South Corridor, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel added: "It's very clear that Africa is being hit by wave after wave of aftershocks from the financial crisis. This regional response to free-up trade and stimulate growth and jobs is essential at this time and for the long-term development of Africa's economy."
On the EPA with Eastern and Southern Africa, Commissioner Ashton said: "I look forward to continuing the positive engagement with our trade partners to look at their concerns and discuss the way forward on our Economic Partnership Agreements."
The conference in Lusaka aims to support an ambitious project being launched by regional groupings in Southern and Eastern Africa to improve infrastructure and remove regulatory barriers, thereby creating a reliable and efficient transport network and reducing bottlenecks that restrict trade. The goal is to improve regional trade and give countries faster access to international markets, thereby boosting growth and jobs.
The European Union has been discussing the signature of an interim EPA with ESA countries, who are one of seven regional groupings of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) who have been negotiating deals that will boost regional integration, development and economic growth. In December of 2007, six countries from the ESA region initialled an interim EPA, and the common goal is now to move forward to signature of this agreement and continue negotiations towards a comprehensive EPA. The EU has repeatedly stressed its commitment to flexibility in negotiations for EPAs in order to reach agreements that support real development in the ACP.
The EU is by far the largest contributor worldwide to Aid for Trade initiatives worldwide, with a commitment of more than EUR 7 billion per year. By 2010, EUR 2 billion of Aid for Trade support will be dedicated to 'Trade Related Assistance' covering trade policy and regulation, trade development, and building of productive capacity.
Fact sheet on Aid for Trade (see more on our website)
Fact sheet on Economic Partnership Agreements
Fact sheet region by region