Liz O'Donnell T.D welcomes Opening of European Community Market to Poor Countries.
Liz O'Donnell T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, has welcomed the decision by the EC Council to open the Community's internal market to all imports, except armaments, from the world's poorest countries.
The proposal, known as the Everything But Arms proposal, was agreed by EC Foreign and Trade Ministers in Brussels yesterday. Under the proposal, imports from the world's 48 poorest countries - those classified by the United Nations as Least Developed Countries (LDCs)- will gain duty and quota free admission to the Community market. In the three sensitive commodity sectors rice, sugar and bananas, the liberalisation will be progressive. Full liberalisation for imports of LDC bananas will be achieved in 2006. Liberalisation of LDC imports of rice and sugar will begin immediately and will take place in stages up to complete liberalisation in 2009.
Speaking after the adoption of the decision Liz O' Donnell said: " I warmly welcome the decision of the Council as an important step forward to the integration of the world's poorest countries into the global economy. By opening up its market to imports from these countries, particularly in such sensitive sectors as rice, sugar and bananas, the EU is leading by example. Poor countries need market access for the commodities they are efficient at producing, if they are to achieve long term development.
The decision by the Council to open the EU market was not lightly taken. Ministers have had to balance development, trade and national interests and the discussion at the Council was difficult. The decision is a breakthrough for development and is of major importance for the poor countries of sub Saharan Africa, including the six priority countries (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and Lesotho) of Ireland Aid. They now have the prospect of exporting all of their products, including agricultural products, without duties and without quotas to the Community market.
I have supported the proposal from the outset. Ireland recognised its importance to development and urged an early decision by the Council. We must now work with these countries to help them make the most of this important new trade opportunity.