Govt to Resolve EPA Issues

ZAMBIA’S Ambassador to the European Union (EU), Grace Kabwe says Zambia and other Eastern and Southern African Countries (ESA) are committed to ensuring that contentious issues surrounding the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are resolved.

Ms Kabwe who is also Zambia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Netherlands, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg said in an interview here that Zambia and other countries were targeting value addition to products which would be exported to the EU countries under the EPAs arrangement.

“We are committed to a comprehensive EPA, we are committed to ensuring that the contentious issues that we have identified as these countries, the LDCs (Least Developed Countries) are addressed before we can put market offers on the table.

“We insist on having policy space on taxes which our counterparts are not agreeing with because they are saying we can raise funds from other sources, but we are saying that the taxes are what is going to help us industrialise,” she said.

EPAs are a scheme to create a free trade area between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) They are a response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are incompatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

Ms Kabwe said there was also need to set up an EPA development fund which would enable ESA countries trade with EU countries on a fair ground. Tomorrow and Thursday, the EU will host the fourth EU-Africa summit in Brusselswhich has brought together EU and African leaders including President Michael Sata under the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace.”

Mr Sata and his entourage have already arrived in Brussels in readiness for the summit. The President is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba, Commerce Minister Bob Sichinga, Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations George Chellah and other Senior Government officials.

According to a programme released by the Zambian Embassy in Belgium, Mr Sata will today meet the President of the EU, Jose Manuel Barroso for bilateral talks at Berlaymont building. The President would meet with the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk at Justus Lipsius Building for bilateral relations talks tomorrow.

Mr Sata would also join other heads of State at the dinner hosted by the King of Belgium, Philippe at the royal palace tomorrow.

The President is expected to leave Brussels on Friday, this week.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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