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EU-ECOWAS Trade Partnership Forum Held

Nov 24, 2009, 12:22 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

The National Authorising System Support Unit (NASSU) of the EDF, under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs over the weekend held an interactive session on the EU-ECOWAS Trade Partnership Forum, at the Independence Stadium in Bakau as part of the ongoing GCCI organised trade fair.

Addressing the forum, Mr. Kanimang Bayo of NASSU at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, said that the European Union through the European Co-operation is the lead development partner of the developing world that supports numerous development programmes and projects at various bilateral levels and institutional frameworks as EU- ECOWAS trade partnership.

According to Mr. Bayo, there are several other partnerships, including one on sustainable environment management as of the toughest challenges confronting mankind, human rights, health, agriculture and sustainable economic reforms which, he said, are indeed fundamental for humanity to flourish in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Dilating on the update of the Negotiation of an Economic Partnership Agreement between West African and European Community, Mr. Abdoulie Jammeh of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment, said West Africa and the European Union trade has been guided by non-reciprocal trade regime, offering traffic preferences for West African products entering the EU market under the several regimes, ranging from Lome to Cotonou Conventions.

According to him, preferential access violates the requirement of non-discrimination among WTO members as set out in Article 1 of GATT.

He further revealed that WTO waives were therefore introduced to allow trade regimes from Lome to Cotonou, to give ACP countries a temporary preferential access to EU markets.

According to him, "the waiver was granted in 2002 for the maximum period allowed for such waivers that is 5 years starting from January 1, 2003, and to end on Dec 31 2007." In December 2002, he said, the summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held in Dakar, Senegal, had mandated the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions to negotiate the EPAs on behalf of ECOWAS member states.

"Thus negotiations were launched at ministerial level on 6th October 2003 between the EU and West Africa. The common objective of the EU and West Africa in these negotiations is to conclude an agreement at the regional level that will support development and fast regional intergration," he added.

According to him, a roadmap for negotiation was endorsed on 4th October 2004, covering the priorities of the region, the development dimension of the EPA (notably the need for support measures in response of the challenges of gradual intergration into the world economy), and the structure of the negotiation.