Fabian Demicoli

ACP Market Access Regulation

The Market Access Regulation permitted 36 ACP countries to access the EU market at preferential tariff rates. This Regulation was intended as a temporary and bridging solution until the Economic Partnership Agreements are negotiated, signed and ratified in order to avoid trade disruption. However, the Commission believes that it is time to bring this temporary instrument to a close by withdrawing the Market Access Regulations.


From all the ACP countries, 18 (Caribbean, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Papua New Guinea) have taken the step to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreements signed with the EU. Another 18 countries have not signed the Agreement and are still not applying it. This is an unfair situation towards those countries that have already taken the necessary steps and other developing countries which do not get duty-free quota-free market access to the EU. The EU position in relation to the current Market Access Regulation of non-EPA countries could be contested in the WTO.

As a consequence those ACP countries that have not signed and ratified would need to ensure that steps are taken to ratify their EPA or conclude new regional Agreements with the EU before 2014 if the proposal is adopted. Most would still benefit from preferential market access to the EU from the EBA, GSP or GSP+ systems if these countries fail to ratify the EPA. As Burundi, the Comoros, Haiti, Lesotho, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are LDCs, these would benefit from the Everything But Arms system. Cameron, Fiji, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya Swaziland and Zimbabwe are low-income or lower middle income countries which could benefit from the GSP regime, which is less advantageous than the market access in the EPA. Finally, Botswana and Namibia will not benefit from any preferential treatment if their status of upper middle-income countries is confirmed for three consecutive years.

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