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Administrative Cooperation Agreement signed between Seychelles and Ghana for implementation of culmination provisions under the economic partnership agreement

02.06.2014

On the 20th May 2014, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles and of the Republic of Ghana signed an agreement on administrative cooperation (ACA) to fulfill the requirements for cumulation with ACP countries laid down under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). It is believed that this agreement between Ghana and Seychelles is the first of its kind to be signed by two ACP States – in view of satisfying the administrative requirements under their respective trading arrangements with the EU.

At the occasion, Hanna Serwaa TETTEH, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana, explained: “We are able to enter in this administrative agreement because both our countries already have signed agreements with the EU. We have the same traceability system which allows us to identify from which vessel a specific consignment originated and we have the same sanitary standards that we have to upkeep, so really this agreement is beneficial to both sides as all the technical requirements are already in place” (source: J. Nicette & S. Uranie, “Ghana and Seychelles to ‘top-up’ each other’s tuna exports”, Seychelles News Agency, 20th May 2014).

Speaking on the occasion, Jean-Paul ADAM, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles, said: “We welcome the initiative of ACP States as well as the ACP Secretariat to work on a joint instrument to allow cumulation with every other ACP country. However, Ghana and Seychelles felt the need for a prompt conclusion of an ACA between themselves to relieve their exporters of the uncertainty that the non-satisfaction of the crucial administrative requirements created when exporting to the EU. Indeed, we have acted in the interest of our industry.”

Whilst EPAs between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions are still being negotiated in most of the ACP regions, several outstanding issues are common. For instance, the lack of flexibility of the EPAs has largely been criticized by EPA detractors in ACP countries – and elsewhere –, notably with regards to the application of the rules of origin. Amongst those criticisms, the issue of cumulation has been flagged because of the burdensome requirements on ACAs.

Although ACP countries hardly managed to fulfill the stringent administrative requirements laid down under EPAs, the need for ACP exporters to secure their supply chain, ensuring a predictable and reliable benefit from the EPA, has became a more and more sensitive matter, notably due to the progressive erosion of the preferences granted to ACP countries. In this light, the difficulty of concluding an ACA has been highlighted at many occasions by the ACP States.

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