EC-Eastern and Southern Africa States Economic Partnership Agreement
Delivered in Plenary - 17th Janaury 2013
I welcome the promotion of free trade as the cornerstone of EU external commercial policy. The Cotonou Agreement enabled African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to have a trade and development relationship with us covering not just trade in goods but also services, trade-related rules and development cooperation.
Because it was not possible in all ACP regions to finalise the negotiations before the Cotonou trade regime expired in December 2007, a series of interim agreements were concluded to minimise any disruption before the expiry date. So the interim EPA with Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe has to be seen as a stepping stone to a wider and more comprehensive deal currently under negotiation between the European Union and the whole of Eastern and Southern Africa.
We must encourage the negotiations for a comprehensive EPA with all countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, including those which did not join the interim one, such as Ethiopia, which is a country I know and have a lot of admiration for. We want to conclude an agreement at a regional level which supports sustainable development and fosters regional integration, because that is the way to prosperity and better development for the African continent.