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06.08.2004 Business & Finance

ECOWAS Trade Ministers adopt Roadmap for EPA

By GNA

Accra, Aug. 6, GNA- Trade Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted a road map for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the European Community. The adoption, which took place at the end of their Accra Meeting, puts out the roadmap that forms the framework for the EPA and guides both parties during the forthcoming negotiations in Geneva.

A statement signed by Dr Adrienne Y. Diop, ECOWAS Communications Director, said the objectives of the negotiations were to facilitate the integration of West African States into the world economy.

The roadmap includes a set of preparatory activities ahead of the EPA negotiations, a negotiating structure, operational modalities and an indicative schedule for the negotiations.

She said the first phase of the negotiations attended by all the 15-member states was engaged at the level of all the ACP and the European Commission (EC) and involved all interested parties.

ECOWAS, which has the mandate to negotiate with the European Commission on behalf of West Africa, including Mauritania, launched the second phase in Cotonou, Benin, on October 6 last year.

The terms of the mandate focus on factors including the progressive establishment in accordance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules of a free trade zone between ECOWAS and the EU for a period of 12 years, starting from January 2008 while giving priority to development and poverty reduction.

The terms would also enhance competitiveness of West African enterprises, capacity building and upgrading as well as improving access for West African exports to the EU market.

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