The Zambian government says it will not sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU) if export duty is not included in the final package, the Post of Zambia reported on Wednesday.
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Emmanuel Chenda said the proposal by the EU to remove export duties will erode the purpose of having the agreements as a tool for development.
"Another contentious issue has to do with export duties, the EU wants these to be removed but we are saying it is one measure governments use to ensure that local industries are set up thereby creating jobs and it also discourages people from exporting raw materials, if this is not included, then we have a problem because EPAs will remove this aspect," he was quoted as saying by the paper.
Zambia is currently the EPAs chair for the eastern and southern African region but the minister expressed concern that there were still many contentious issues that must be tackled in order to achieve a common position.
The EPAs are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific regions aimed at creating a free trade area. They are a response to the continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are incompatible with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
The EPAs were supposed to take effect in 2008 but have been dragged on because of contentious issues.