October 21, 2006

CONSUMER Unity and Trust Society Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC) has organised regional dialogue on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and economic development in the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries.

The purpose of the dialogue to be held mid this month is to debate the developmental value of the proposed EPAs with the European Union and Sub Saharan African countries by considering the progress made so far and various proposals on the table for further trade and investment liberalisation,

The regional dialogue, according to CUTS-ARC researcher Vladimir Chilinya, was expected to offer an opportunity to assess and target the development component of EPAs in relation to the national and regional development strategies.

“The objective of the policy dialogue is to take stock of the progress EPA negosiations and how it impacts the business and development opportunities of countries in the region.”Chiliniya said. “The context and background of the regional dialogue stemmed from the need to address and define specific development concerns of EPAs and difficulties that governments and non-state actors face in proactively engaging in the negotiation process.”

Some of the major topics to be discussed are the inputs into the formal review process of EPAs as envisaged in the Cotonou Agreement and strengthening of non-state actors and trade negotiators to effectively engage on the linkages between trade development and poverty reduction.

The meeting would also seek to progress consensus among the key stakeholders on benchmarking development component to be agreed upon and assess the policy coherence of the EPAs at national and regional level.