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European Union, ECOWAS to regulate trade

European Union, ECOWAS to regulate trade

8 August 2006

Accra, Aug. 8, GNA - The European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have decided to negotiate an agreement to regulate their trade relations under the new World Trade Organization (WTO) Compatible Framework.

Mr Guy Samzum, Deputy Head of the European Commission, said at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday that this formed part of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and African States which begin from January 1, 2008.

The press conference was to officially announce Finland’s chair of the presidency of the European Union from July to December 2006. Finland was represented by the German Ambassador to Ghana since it had no Embassy in Ghana.

Mr Samzum said both the EU and ECOWAS were committed to a development oriented EPA by which the region would be supported in liberalizing its internal trade, harmonizing its business regulations and improving infrastructure among other things.

"Regional integration is seen as the prerequisite for the success of the EPA in the sense that a sizeable, attractive and well regulated regional market is the only way to build development through successful trade relations among ECOWAS countries and with the EU," he said. Mr Samzum said the EPA and the European Development Fund (EDF) would be implemented at the same time in 2008 and would result in substantial financial support with an aid coordination and harmonization of effort to avoid duplication.

He said the current programming dialogue involved other EU member States and non-EU donors so that the new Country Strategy and National Indicative Programme would meet the Joint Assistance Strategy by which donors would sustain Ghana’s growth and poverty reduction derive. Mr Peter Linder, German Ambassador to Ghana, said the EU-Africa Joint Strategy which was intended to be a focused political document would build a decade of dialogue to include new areas of interest. He said the new strategy would be structured on peace and security; human rights and governance; trade and integration and development; which would include innovative financing mechanisms. It would support the proposal to cancel outstanding debts owed by the Highly Indebted Poor Countries.

Mr Linder said the UN Security Council was under the presidency of Ghana for this month adding that the concept paper sent by Ghana on peace and consolidation would on Tuesday be debated by the Council in New York chaired by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD.

He said Ghana belonged to the 10 most important partners for the EU’s cooperation worldwide and an analysis in June showed that real disbursements by development partners amounted to 1.5 billion dollars. In an answer to a question on illegal migrants, Mr Linder said the issue of migration was a prominent agenda of the EU. He said poverty and conflicts contributed immensely to the phenomenon of migration hence the improved aid and peacekeeping missions by the EU to curb it.