EU closer to West Africa trade deal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - BUSINESS -

ABID­JAN: The EU could fi­nalise a trade agree­ment with West Africa’s 15-na­tion Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (Ecowas) within the next three months, EU trade com­mis­sioner Karel De Gucht said this week.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions over an Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment to pro­mote free mar­ket ac­cess broke down a year and a half ago amid dis­agree­ment over the speed at which West African na­tions were will­ing to lift tar­iff bar­ri­ers.

How­ever Ecowas heads of state agreed last month to im­ple­ment a sin­gle cus­toms tar­iff regime from 2015, al­low­ing talks with the EU to restart.

“It was a break­through in Dakar in Oc­to­ber. It’s on the ba­sis of that break­through that we are of the opin­ion we can come to a close of th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions any time soon,” De Gucht said.

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