10 March 2009
In November of 2008, Mayer Brown lawyers Paul Olivera and Charles de Jager participated in a series of seminars put on by TradeCom in Brussels, Belgium, and facilitated by Advocates for International Development (A4ID), a UK charity that facilitates free legal assistance to help achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (http://www.a4id.org/default.aspx). Mayer Brown is a founding member of A4ID.
After several years of slow progress, there is a growing expectation that 2009 will bring resolution to the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Meanwhile, on a regional basis, nations forming the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) coalition have either agreed to, or are working to put in place, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with their trade partners in the European Union. Such agreements seek to gradually liberalize substantially all trade in goods between the EU and the ACP member states. They are also intended to provide a transparent and predictable framework with the goal of achieving free trade in goods between the participating nations, as well as increased investment and capital flows between the regions. An EPA has already been signed between the EU and the CARIFORUM community in 2008, with the exception of the member states of Haiti. The remaining ACP member nations, concerned that they will lose their preferential access to European economic community markets because of WTO requirements for the elimination of preferential treatment, are under significant pressure to reach a similar agreement with the European Union.
It was against this backdrop that TradeCom, which provides and coordinates trade-related technical assistance to ACP countries (http://www.tradecom-acpeu.org/) and A4ID organised the conference in Brussels on various legal aspects of trade policy and negotiations between EU and ACP member states. Paul Olivera and Charles de Jager from Mayer Brown’s London and Brussels offices volunteered to give presentations on Investment and Capital Movements and on Subsidies and Trade Remedies, respectively, and prepared papers on these subjects in advance of the seminars.
Representative trade negotiators from ACP member states warmly received the presentations, which gave a practitioner's perspective on the current issues surrounding these topics and stimulated a lively dialogue among the participants. Discussion centred on the stress being experienced in international capital markets and the manner in which this is impacting developing countries. Paul Olivera said of the conference: "It was a privilege to be invited to discuss these topics with such distinguished participants and contribute information from Mayer Brown's market experience perspective to aid in this important and sensitive dialogue."
Paul Olivera's paper, “Investment Including Capital Flows,” is scheduled to appear in Issue 2/2009 of International Trade Law & Regulation. For additional information please contact Paul Olivera or Charles de Jager.
CARIFORUM members are: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Cuba is also a member of CARIFORUM but did not participate in negotiations.