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EU, West Africa & Central Africa agree 2007 push for EPA

Feb '07
Ministers from both West Africa and Central Africa and European Commissioners Peter Mandelson and Louis Michel have today agreed to take all necessary measures to conclude negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that supports sustainable development, promotes deep regional integration and good economic governance, facilitates trade and attracts private investment to these regions.

Both sides agreed on the importance of completing negotiations in 2007. The European Commission reassured both delegations of its commitment to a comprehensive development package to accompany the EPAs.

Chief negotiators urged officials to intensify efforts and prepare a draft EPA text and market access offers to be examined at their next meeting in July.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "I am pleased we have reaffirmed our shared commitment to reaching a balanced agreement by the end of 2007; and to ensuring a comprehensive development package to accompany the EPAs".

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said: "This agreement will be a powerful tool for development. It will boost the potential that trade and investment represent for the development of these countries and for regional integration".

The Commission stressed that the EU is committed to offering full duty free access to the greatest extent possible for goods originating in West Africa and Central Africa. The EU is not seeking reciprocity in market opening, and any new market access requested would be subject to flexibilities and long transition periods.

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