This Day (Nigeria) | 2 December 2006
ECOWAS Seeks Extension of Agreement with EU
From Andy Ekugo in Abuja
The regional ministerial committee monitoring the negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the European Union has requested a three year extension of the 2007 deadline for the conclusion of the negotiations for a free trade area of the two economic blocs.
The one-day extraordinary meeting of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee for the EPA, comprising regional ministers for trade, finance and ECOWAS affairs, endorsed a proposal by an earlier meeting of experts for the extension based on the volume of outstanding tasks, the completion of which determines the viability of the EPA.
The extraordinary meeting was agreed during the last meeting of the committee in Niamey on October 6, 2006. The review was to enable the region to among other things conduct a mid-term review of the negotiations, review the major elements of the mandate granted regional negotiators, consider the areas of divergence in the negotiations and the measures required for implementation at national levels to facilitate the process.
West Africa wants the EPA to commence on 1st January 2011 instead of January 2008 provided under the Cotonou partnership agreement which provides he framework for the negotiation of the EPA between the EU and the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Among them is the upgrading of the economies of Member States to improve their competitiveness, which requires the injection of funds from EU. In this regard, the ministers urged the European party to ensure prompt disbursement of funds and coherence between development aid granted to African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries under the negotiations and those granted EU member states.
On investment and competition, the committee directed the ECOWAS Secretariat and its counterpart for the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) to continue their efforts to establish a regional framework on these issues.