Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

23 November 2012

Namibia: EU Extends Epa Deadline

The European Union has extended the deadline for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to renegotiate the Economic Partnership Agreement.

The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Namibia, Ambassador Raul Fuentes Milani said in all likelihood the deadline to reach a final Economic Partnership Agreement will be extended after the European Parliament voted for the extension of the deadline from January 2014 to 2016 as countries, including Namibia, needed time to look at some of the proposals from the EU.

Milani said a lack of consensus and agreement on the final EPA was now causing the European Union Delegation to Namibia "EPA fatigue". He said: "Namibia represents about 0.1% of EU trade. We don't want trade gains from Namibia, what we want is an agreement that is legally sound and will not be challenged. We are now experiencing EPA fatigue."

The ambassador also complained about a lack of meetings between the government and the EU Delegation.

"We have had only one round of negotiations in 2012 and this is not enough. There was another meeting scheduled for October but we didn't meet. If we need to come up with an agreement, we have to meet."

Milani's comments are in sharp contrast to his comments during an interview with The Economist early this year. Then the Ambassador was hopeful that a final agreement will be signed before the expiry of the existing agreement because all that was now outstanding from the Namibian government was a reply on the proposals made by the EU on the rules of origin on fisheries.

He said then: "Basically the message is that negotiations are progressing very positively and regularly, and there is no political stumbling block. We are now waiting for Namibia to reply on a specific issue regarding the rules of origin on fisheries and there are other technical issues such as the Most-Favoured Nation, Infant Industry Protection and others which need to be resolved in the context of SADC. We have presented our proposals and we are waiting for Namibia's reply. We hope that a final deal can be reached in the course of the year."

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