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EU, North Africa Open Trade Negotiations

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

16 December 2011


The European Commission has welcomed the decision of the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council to authorise the opening of trade negotiations with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

The decision provides the European Commission with a mandate to start negotiations to establish deep and comprehensive free trade areas (DCFTAs). Compared to the current trade relationship between the EU and these countries, the DCFTAs will go beyond removing only tariffs to cover all regulatory issues relevant to trade, such as investment protection and public procurement.

Commenting on the decision, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht stated that: “We are offering Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia progressive economic integration into the EU single market and want to improve the conditions for market access to the EU for these four WTO members as they engage in a process of democratic and economic reform.”

According to the Commission, the future deep and comprehensive free trade areas will be part of the existing Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements, and will cover a full range of regulatory areas of mutual interest, such as trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, investment protection, public procurement and competition policy.

The Commission says: “The opening of trade negotiations aims at improving market access opportunities and the investment climate in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. They also support economic reforms undertaken in these four countries.”

It adds: “In the context of these negotiations, the EU will also pay particular attention to measures which can enhance regional economic integration, and in particular the process launched among these four Southern Mediterranean partners in the framework of the Agadir Agreement, a free trade agreement between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.”

TAGS: Morocco | tax | European Commission | tariffs | Egypt | Jordan | Tunisia | trade | European Union (EU) | free trade zone | Europe

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