Labour MEP wins reprieve for poorest African, Caribbean and Pacific countries - 2012-09-13
"I'm really proud that progressive members in this House together outvoted the Commission's proposals to unilaterally end duty free quota free access for goods from some of the world's poorest countries by 2014," said David Martin MEP who is steering the Market Access Regulation through the European Parliament.
The Regulation agreed today will now go to the governments of the EU for negotiations with the European Parliament - the British coalition government opposes the reprieve for the poorest nations.
"I call on the British government to reconsider their view, and particularly on the Liberal Democrats to push their Tory allies on this, to simply give the opportunity for a brief breathing space for some of the world's poorest nations," he added.
"The 2014 deadline the European Commission wanted to impose on ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries was not feasible, and my proposals passed today would now give some of the world's poorest countries another two years to negotiate trading deals with the EU.
"My report proposed extending the Commission deadline to 1st January 2016. To meet their 2014 deadline, countries would have to be finalising EPA negotiations this summer. Although negotiations are moving quickly, no region is in this position at the moment.
"Agreeing to the 2014 deadline would effectively be acknowledging that the preferences they currently enjoy in their trading agreements with the EU, the world's largest trading area, would simply be withdrawn. My 2016 deadline is a more realistic aim.
"Applying an unreachable deadline of 2014 is not the kind of trade and development relationship we should have with our ACP partners."
Since the old system of preferential access to developing countries finished in 2007, ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries have had duty free, quota free access to the EU market while negotiating separate 'Economic Partnership Agreements' (EPAs) with the EU.
Seventeen countries have not yet finished this negotiating process.
"It would be really difficult for some countries like Kenya, Botswana and Namibia to rigidly follow the deadline," said David Martin, a Labour MEP representing Scotland.
"No ACP country should be forced to sign an unsatisfactory agreement. Some African countries perceive the Commission's urgency as heavy pressure on them to accept unsatisfactory partnership agreements.
"The Commission can now focus on the conclusion of development-friendly Agreements in goods by 2016."
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Note to Editors
Further information and background is available from Traidcraft -
David Martin is "rapporteur" for the Market Access Regulations