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EU signs trade pact with southeast African nations

Associated Press

EU signs trade pact with southeast African nations

29 August 2009

BRUSSELS — The European Union signed a temporary trade pact Saturday with Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Madagascar calling for tariffs on European goods to be removed over the next 15 years.

The four countries in southeast Africa have had full access to the EU consumer market — the world’s biggest — since the start of 2008 for most goods. Trade barriers for rice and sugar, however, are being removed gradually.

The new deal excludes trade on agricultural products such as milk, meat, vegetables, textiles, footwear and clothing.

Zambia and Comoros have indicated they will sign the EU pact at a later date, the EU said.

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi and Sudan, which have been negotiating a regional trade pact, may also join the EU accord. As poor developing nations they currently do not pay tariffs on exports to the EU.

EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said the new interim deal would help countries of eastern and southern Africa in creating a single regional trade pact with the EU that would eventually cover trade in services, investment and protection for emerging industries in Africa.

The European Union imported some euro3.2 billion ($4.6 billion) of goods from eastern and southern Africa last year, mostly textiles, clothes, sugar, fish products and copper. European exports — mostly mechanical and electrical machinery and vehicles — were worth euro4.3 billion ($6.18 billion).