Partnership on Trade and Regional Integration – 13th Africa EU Joint Task Force Meeting

AU/EU 1. The co-chair regret that for the second time a formal Joint Expert Group meeting could not take place. Participation included officials from South Africa, ECCAS, Africa Union Commission (Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Economic Affairs), UNIDO and European Commission (Delegation, Agriculture, SANCO, Market, Development and Cooperation). The first participation of ECCAS, UNIDO and EC DG Agriculture is particularly welcome. The absence of most AU Member States and Regional Economic Communities, EU Member States and other donors is particularly regretted. The EU co-chair suggested to associate as far as possible ad hoc JEG or working groups meetings with the planned meetings of AU thematic experts groups preparing relevant ministerial or Summits meetings.

2. The meeting reviewed the state of play in each of the seven priority areas of the P3 Action Plan 2011-2013, namely regional integration, agriculture, including SPS, industry, customs and trade facilitation, raw materials, investment and statistics, covering about 50 ongoing or envisaged actions. Discussions focused on next steps, division of work and the financial coverage and updating or identifying areas for implementation in 2012 and 2013.

3. The detailed operational conclusions are included in a roadmap currently being updated.

4. The meeting was informed on the preparation of the next AU Summit that will deal with intra-African trade. This will include finalising four documents (an issues/strategy paper, an action plan for the short, medium and long term, an evaluation and monitoring mechanism and an architecture for trade for Africa) and ad hoc events:

  • A retreat in November with RECs, international partners, NGOs, resource persons and possibly ECDPM
  • An Africa Trade Forum in November, co-organised with UNECA
  • The AU Trade Ministers Conference in Accra end November

The strategy is expected to go beyond the objectives of the current Minimum Integration Programme and to fast track the construction of a continental Free Trade Area, building on the Tripartite initiative

The EC representatives offered to share relevant documents and possibly attend preparatory meetings if invited, which was accepted.

5. The main items discussed for the first time within the partnership include the implementation of the African Agribusiness and Agro-industry Development Initiative (3ADI), the Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA) and the support for Investment Promotion Agencies; the launch of an AUC study on a model investment code based on best practices; the preparation of the 2012 ministerial conference on industrial cooperation in Africa and the policy dialogue on small and medium enterprises; cooperation on organic farming ad geographical indications; the possible cooperation with EuroGeo Services on geological sciences, including for high level training and computerised mapping of concerned countries or regions; the launch of a study on existing EU-Africa agreements, for which South Africa offered to draft terms of reference; the expected adoption of EU legislation on country by country reporting by companies exploiting mining or forestry resources in developing countries (transparency directive).

6. The following on-going activities are particularly underlined: the ongoing implementation of the ten point action plan on internal market policies; the ToRs of a feasibility study on the creation of an African Integration Fund submitted by AUC, following the COMAI V conference in September 2011; the nine areas on customs and trade facilitation challenges (AUC submitted in June 2011 five concept notes), for which it was agreed to consider the consolidation within a framework initiative for customs cooperation.

7. The meeting noted the difficulties mentioned in relation to AUC budgeting procedures, including for example the preparation for the Summit as the theme was decided after the 2011 budget had been adopted. Therefore, financial support was missing for the preparatory studies or meetings.

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