CUTS welcomes Zambia’s selection to co-ordinate LDCs’ talks at WTO

CONSUMER Unit and Trust Society (CUTS)-International has welcomed Zambia’s selection to coordinate trade negotiations for 54 Least Developing Countries (LDCs) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

CUTS stated that Zambia’s selection to coordinate trade negotiations for LDCs at WTO presented a number of development opportunities such as an increase in investment as well as trade.

In a press statement, CUTS-International stated that this development should be taken seriously by Zambia as it was also a huge responsibility given that the country is also chairing the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) group negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) with the European Union (EU).

“Zambia should not be seen to fail but immediately start organising the LDCs to strategise for the next Doha Development Agenda (DDA) meeting and be able to take concrete and developmental issues at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as LDCs,” the Consumer Unit stated. “This is important and Zambia should ensure that there is an LDC’s strategy before the next WTO meeting is convened. CUTS-International would also like to commend the government on their exemplary leadership as ESA chair.”

CUTS-International further stated that the leadership that the country had exhibited in EPA negotiations was exemplary.

“The recent comments in the media by the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry (MCTI), Dr Bulleti Nsemukila that, the EPA negotiations were beyond market access-but development and regional integration shows governments commitment in achieving a developmental EPA,” CUTS-International observed. “The statement shows the willingness by Zambia to sign an agreement that will benefit both parties (and the entire ESA bloc).”

CUTS-International observed that negotiations which concerned regional integration had failed miserably hence the need to put proper strategies in place when dealing with the same.

“No one can say that the EPA process has deepened or strengthened the regional integration process,” the Consumer Unit stated. “The negotiations started off badly, with members of the regional organisations feeling pressurised to choose which grouping to negotiate an EPA with, which caused serious tensions in the region and, consequently, had detrimental effects on the integration process and a slowing down of the process.”

CUTS-International further stated that EPAs had capitalised on this situation and the current state of play did not favour regional integration and Africa as a whole.

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