03.08.2004 Business & Finance

Trade experts meet in Accra

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Accra, Aug. 3, GNA - West African Trade Experts on Tuesday started a meeting in Accra to fine-tune the draft final roadmap for negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the European Union.

The meeting is also to underscore the importance and urgency that the leadership of the Sub-Region places on building the negotiating skills and capacity of her experts. It is being attended by all the 15 member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and would culminate in a high-level Trade Ministers' meeting.

Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives, said several meetings had been held in Benin, Ghana and Nigeria at which the experts agreed on the amendments and changes to the draft. He said unless ECOWAS overcame her supply side constraints and built competition, there was no way it could derive benefits from the EPA and the European Union. "We must, therefore, ensure that activities projected to be carried out in this section of the roadmap are done efficiently with realistic time frames."

Mr Kyerematen expressed the hope that the Accra meeting would adopt the final roadmap to open the way for the commencement of the negotiations. Mr Mame Cor Sene, ECOWAS Deputy Executive Secretary, asked the Experts to consider the meeting as critical as it offered one of the final opportunities for the Sub-Region to come to terms with the EPA.

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