|Workshop participants pose with EU, NA and Gov't officials|
Organized by the parliamentary network for the promotion of investments and partnership agreements, known in its French acronym as REPICOP, was aimed at informing MPs on the stakes, challenges, constrains and opportunities of partnership agreements in general and the implementation of the EPA in particular.
Cameroon and the EU signed the EPA in 2009; providing for a free access to the EU market for exports (mostly raw materials), originating from Cameroon while Cameroon on her part had to open it markets to European exports for a transitional period of fifteen (15) years.
Parliament approved the agreement in June 2013, authorizing the president of the republic to ratify agreement. The EPA then entered into application in August 2014 following its ratification.
“Now that it is effective, it is part of the legal corpus of Cameroon. It is not more the debate on the opportunities of signing or not signing, we have to forge ahead, to see what can come out of this agreement for the benefit of the Cameroonian population”, Hon Banmi Emmanuel, president of REPICOP said.
The implementation phase of the agreement according to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT) will span fifteen (15) years.
Gilbert Didier Edoa explained that “we have two years of preparation, that is from August 2014 to 2016 and thirteen (13) years of effective implementation which will start in August 2016”.
Cameroon is the European Union’s leading trade partner in Central Africa. The Ambassador, head of the European Union delegation to Cameroon, Franciose Collet said the delegation welcomes the initiative.
“We really welcome this initiative by the parliamentary network for the promotion of investments and partnerships. We are assisting by providing technical expertise and by supporting this initiative”, Collet said.
According to one of the participants, Hon Abe Michael, the workshop was timely. The MP for Ako/Misaje said as lawmakers who check government action, MPs have to abreast with the advantages and limitations of such agreements.
The vice president of the national assembly, Hon Baoro Theophile who chaired the opening ceremony of the workshop urged the participants to come up with workable conditions under which parliamentarians will monitor the implementation of the EPA.
In addition to the members of parliament; MPs and Senators, other participants at the one day workshop included representatives of the European Union Delegation in Cameroon, the Ministry of Economy Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT), and the Cameroon Employers’ Union (GICAM).
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde