NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group on Friday welcomed the decision by the EU Parliament to postpone the deadline for the end of negotiations for new trade deal from 2013 to 2016.
Negotiations for a new trade deal known as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) have been ongoing for several years now but the two parties have failed to agree on a common position on many issues.
The EU Parliament voted on Wednesday evening to postpone the deadline by three more years to allow for further negotiations of some of the most controversial issues.
"ACP members have welcomed the decision by the EU because it will allow time for more dialogue. The deadline was making it harder for the two parties to continue doing business," said Johnson Weru, the Director of Economic and External Trade Division at Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He spoke to Xinhua on the sidelines of a conference by members of the ACP in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that has been discussing how the group can play a bigger role in the international trade system. The four day meeting ended on Friday.
The deadline was perceived as EU's plan to coarse the ACP countries to agree to the terms of the proposed trade deal by threatening them that those countries that will not have signed to the deal by then will cease to enjoy duty free access to the EU market.
Under EPAs, the ACP countries will continue to enjoy duty free access to the European market, but will also be required to allow European companies to have duty free access to their markets.
The intention is to reciprocate the trading terms that the ACP countries have been enjoying since 1959. But the negotiations have faced stiff competition from the civil society and ACP's trade experts because of the risk they pose to local enterprises.
For instance, allowing European manufactured goods that are competitively priced because of the lower costs of doing business there will lead to stagnant or retarded growth of ACP's manufacturing capability.
Yet growing thriving manufacturing industries is seen as the next step for ACP countries most of which are in the phase of transforming themselves from the predominant agrarian economies.
Manufacturing also creates more economic value by employing more people and creating demand for service providers, hence triggering formation of new enterprises.
The extension of the deadline will give time to the ACP countries improve their bargain in the proposed agreement.
It will also allow some members to enter into the deal when their economies are at a higher stage of development that next year.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sub-Sahara Africa is the fastest growing region in the world. If some countries maintain their current levels of growth, like Rwanda that has maintained growth of 7 percent, then the sizes of those economies will have doubled by the time the new trade deal comes into place.
Other members of the ACP like Kenya and Uganda have discovered commercially viable deposits of oil while Tanzania has discovered gas and addition gold resource, developments that will influence their trade negotiations game plan.