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Ministers endorse compromises for economic partnership with EU

26 February 2014, 12:41

Dakar - Ministers of Finance and Trade in West Africa have adopted the compromise proposals for concluding the decade-long negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).

The ECOWAS Commission made this known in Dakar on Tuesday at the end of a meeting of the ministers under the aegis of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC)

It said the adoption would allow for a free trade area of the two regions.

It said the ministers also adopted the compromises proposed during the preceding meetings of senior officials and chief negotiators.

It explained that the compromise proposals were in the areas of market access, where the region has agreed to liberalise 75 percent of its market over a 20 year transition period.

This would be based on a tariff dismantling schedule, a major shift from its initial position of 60 percent over 25 years.

It said there was also compromise on the other contentious issues of the EPA Development Fund (EPADP) for which the region had asked for 16 billion euros in new resources from the EU.

It said this would enable it address its infrastructure deficits ahead of the implementation of the agreement.

“As part of the compromises, both parties agreed on the priority needs valued at 6. 5 billion euros and centred around trade, industry, agriculture, infrastructure, energy and capacity building with the EU.

It said the impending conclusion of the negotiations would end an era of different trade regimes in the region.

It said the ministers proposed that further consultations should be organised for the private sector, civil society organisations and other stakeholders prior to the next council of ministers meeting.

It added that the proposals from the meeting would be considered before adoption by Heads of State and Government.

-  NAN

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