Seychelles Continues to Actively Engage in EPA Process
Ambassador Vivianne Fock-Tave has led the Seychelles delegation at the second meeting of the EPA Committee under the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) between the signatory states of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region and the European Union (EU), held in Mauritius on 14th and 15th May 2013.
The iEPA is an agreement that offers duty free and quota free access for Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Zimbabwe from the ESA side to the EU. The two sub-committees, the Customs Cooperation Committee and the Joint Development Committee, took place back-to-back with the EPA Committee. The meetings marked the completion of the first year of the iEPA implementation.
During the meeting, the EU and the iEPA signatory states reiterated their commitments to the EPA as an instrument for securing market access on a legally stable and predictable basis. The parties adopted the Rules of Procedure for the Committee and sub-committees and reviewed the state of ratification and implementation of the Agreement. The meeting reiterated the importance of exchanging information in respect of tariff reduction and modification of the Harmonised System (HS).
Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar and Zimbabwe highlighted some of the challenges faced in respect to exports to the EU market. The EU side took note and agreed to consult internally in ways of addressing these challenges. Both parties welcomed the progress in addressing errors and omissions and agreed on a timetable to complete this work.
The meeting agreed that any changes to the iEPA that may be required following accession of Croatia to the EU will be adopted by written procedures. The ESA side was also briefed on the possible customs implication of this accession. The parties agreed that they will regularly consult EU regulation and decisions affecting ESA’s competitiveness.
Both parties acknowledged practical difficulties in concluding Administrative Cooperation Agreement for the purposes of cumulation and agreed to consult further in Brussels to urgently address the issue. The European Commission (EC) tabled a proposal to grant an additional derogation of preserved tuna to Mauritius.
The establishment of an EPA fund and its modalities was also discussed in order to best support the countries’ needs and reforms linked to the implementation of the iEPA. Meanwhile, the EU agreed to fast track support to ESA countries’ immediate short term needs.
The Seychelles delegation also constituted of Mr Kenneth Racombo, the Director General for Development and Regional Integration, Ms Cillia Mangroo, the Director General for Trade, Ms Beryl Samson, the Minister Counsellor, and Mr Paul Barrack, the Trade Advisor.