Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Forget EPAs With Europe, Go for GSP-Plus, Activists Say

Such is the headline in the AllAfrica report which records that "Developing countries negotiating with the European Union for an economic partnership agreement (EPA) or a free trade agreement should apply for "GSP-Plus" status with the EU, Kenya Civil Society activists say. It is useful article on the options available to African states that may be concerned over EPAs.

The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP-Plus) status provides non-reciprocal preferences to a large part of the exports of developing country compared with the non-reciprocal nature of the EPAs.

"Moreover, the GSP-Plus status does not require the developing country to sign on to commitments in other areas such as services, intellectual property, investment, competition policy and government procurement. The EU requires that their EPAs contain these issues," said a group of civil society organisations in a press statement.

There is a deadline of October 31 for countries to apply in this round for GSP-Plus status. If this deadline is missed, the next opportunity will come in April 2010.

"According to the EU, the main qualifying criteria are that any GSP-Plus beneficiary country must be considered "vulnerable" and must also have ratified and effectively implemented 27 specified international conventions in the fields of human rights, core labour standards, sustainable development and good governance."

For more on EPAs click here.

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