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ACP Countries: Economic Agreements

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on whether (a) the European Commission should provide an alternative to an Economic Partnership Agreement at the request of any African, Caribbean or Pacific country and (b) any alternative offered should provide no worse market access to the EU than is enjoyed under the Cotonou preferences. (170629)

It remains the UK position, as set out in 2005, that the European Commission should be ready to provide an alternative to an economic partnership agreement (EPA) at the request of any African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) country and that any alternative offered should provide no worse market access to the EU than is currently enjoyed under Cotonou preferences. We are not aware of any ACP country that has requested a permanent alternative to an EPA.

There is currently a discussion with the ACP and EU member states on what market access ACP countries should receive for a temporary period, until they sign an EPA, if they have not done so before Cotonou expires on 31 December 2007. It remains the UK's position that we do not wish ACP countries to receive worse market access to the EU on 1 January 2008 than they currently receive under Cotonou preferences.