The EU is the most open market for African exports. Most African countries have fully free access to the EU market. Other partners offer less favourable conditions for African exports. Europe is by far Africa’s largest export market and its main customer. Thanks to EU trade openness, exports of food and manufactured products from Africa to the EU keep increasing.
In July 2017, the EU and Japan reached an agreement in principle on the main elements of the EPA. Within the framework of our event we would like to discuss the possible challenges ahead to close the deal, the chances to overcome differences on the topic of investment protection and the ability of the partners to set global standards regarding digital trade and data flows. As speakers we will be welcoming Ambassador Akira Kono, Deputy Head of the Japanese Mission to the European Union, Philippe Duponteil, European Commission and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE).
The Cotonou Agreement, a treaty binding the EU and 78 ACP countries, the majority of them from sub-Saharan Africa, is set to expire in 2020. Since its inception in 2000, major changes have occurred and new issues have emerged, requiring a broader approach. For the African states parties to the Cotonou Agreement, the Joint Africa-EU strategy could be an appropriate platform to reflect on their future relations with the EU.
The EU has developed a policy to support the gradual integration of the Western Balkan countries with the Union. On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the first of the seven countries to join, and Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania are official candidates. Accession negotiations and chapters have been opened with Montenegro and Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina (which submitted its membership application in early 2016) and Kosovo are potential candidate countries.
The EU’s trade and development policy is outlined in the January 2012 Communication on ‘Trade, growth and development’. It focuses on countries most in need. The Generalised Scheme of Preferences has been maintained for LDCs, as has the Everything But Arms regime, while preferential treatment for non-LDC ACP countries has been replaced by Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) including a development component. A new EU Aid for Trade strategy, which aims to help developing countries build trade capacities, is being prepared and will be based on a new communication from the Commission. The EU supports the WTO Development Round and ratified the trade facilitation agreement in October 2015.