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Joint ACP/EU Council to meet in Brussels Thursday

The meeting of the joint Council of Cooperation and D evelopment Ministers of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific group of States (ACP ) and the European Union (EU) will be held on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, Be l gium, official sources said here Tuesday.

The meeting will review the progress in negotiations for the conclusion of Econo mic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between EU, the six ACP regions, including Wes t Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, and the two regions of th e Caribbean and the Pacific.

According to observers, there is little chance that both parties will reach an a greement because of persistent differences between them.

ACP countries demand from EU assurance that the development dimension be maintai ned in the EPAs, which are mainly free trade agreements.

The meeting in Brussels will also address the issue of the ACP banana which cont inues to enter the European market without customs duties, under a five-year spe c ial dispensation granted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to EU.

The two leading banana producers in Africa are Côte d’Ivoire with 240,000 tonnes , and Cameroon, which produces 220,000 tonnes of this product highly prized amon g Europeans.

The meeting of the joint ACP/EU Council is expected to be concluded with the ado ption of a joint declaration on climate change and the global financial crisis.

EU’s 27 countries are linked with the 78 ACP countries by the Cotonou Agreement, signed in June 2000 in the Beninese capital, to last 20 years.

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