Cote d’Ivoire, EU sign economic partnership agreement
27 November 2008
ABIDJAN, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — Cote d’Ivoire and the European Union have signed an economic partnership agreement to promote bilateral trade, which the European bloc sees as an example for other West African countries to follow.
Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Integration Amadou Kone and Karl-Friedrich Falkenberg of the European Commission signed the partnership deal on Wednesday.
Under the agreement, the European market will open freely to all the products from Cote d’Ivoire, with tariffs to be removed in phases.
In return, Cote d’Ivoire will allow in the free flow of 80 percent of European products, while maintaining tariffs on the remaining 20 percent as a means of protection for the country’s sensible products such as coffee, cocoa, cotton and palm oil.
With the signing of the agreement, Cote d’Ivoire could continue to protect its sensible products while importing at low prices the products of top necessity needed by its consumers, including food and medicine, Falkenberg said.
The deal will help Cote d’Ivoire promote its development, improve the competitiveness of its enterprises and enlarge its share in the European market, he said, adding the deal marked the first step in West Africa where the EU wishes to have similar agreements with all countries.