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European Parliament okays EU/Côte d’Ivoire free trade

The European Parliament, which met in plenary session in Strasbourg, France, has approved a large majority of free trade interim agre e ments signed by the European Union and Côte d’Ivoire, according to an official c o mmuniqué released here on Thursday.

However, the European delegates condition the signing of a full EPA with Côte d’ Ivoire after the holding of “free, democratic and transparent” presidential and l egislative elections in that African country.

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the only countries in the West African region to hav e signed a free trade interim agreement, compatible with the rules of the World T rade Organization (WTO), with the EU.

The interim agreements are concluded in anticipation of the signing, later on, o f a full EPA with all the countries of West Africa.

At a meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 18 March, the heads of state and g overnment of the West African Economic and Monitory Union (UEMOA), committed the m selves to efforts with other countries in the region to conclude a full EPA with

the European Union before the end of June, according to a communiqué broadcast i n Brussels by the European Commission services.

Negotiations for the EPA take place within the framework of the Economic Communi ty of West African States (ECOWAS).

The European Commission communiqué stressed that the full EPA, with all the coun tries of the West African region, will have to allow for the development needs o f countries and be able to promote the anchoring of economies of the region in th e global economy.

EPA foresees the gradual opening of ACP markets to 80 per cent of European produ cts over a period ranging between 15 to 20 years.

It is recalled that the President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, rejected EPA, sugg esting in its place, the Development Partnership Agreements (DPA) that favour th e dimension development of ACP countries, instead of trade.

Hundreds of Africans who came directly from Africa had demonstrated

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