West Africa’s Ministers of Finance and Trade have adopted the compromise proposals for concluding the decade-long negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
This is contained in a statement signed by the ECOWAS Acting Director of Communication, Mr Sunny Ugoh on Tuesday in Abuja.
At the end of a meeting of the ministers under the aegis of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) in Dakar, Senegal, on February 18, the ministers adopted the compromises proposed during the preceding meetings of senior officials and chief negotiators.
The compromise proposals were in the areas of market access.
“The region has agreed to liberalise 75 per cent of its market over a 20 year transition period based on a scheduled tariff dismantling scheduled,’’ the statement said.
This, it added was a major shift from its initial position of 60 per cent over 25 years.
There were also compromises on the other contentious issues of the EPA Development Fund (EPADP) it said.
The ministers also asked for 16 billion Euro in new resources from the EU.
They said this would enable them to address infrastructure deficit ahead of the implementation of the agreement.
They agreed on the priority needs valued at 6. 5 billion Euro which centred on trade, industry, agriculture, and infrastructure.
Others were energy and capacity building with the EU, its member states and the European Investment Bank agreeing to find a way to match the expressed needs with funding.
The ministers stressed the need to improve the competitiveness of the region through targeted investments in infrastructure
They also stressed on the adoption of joint standards in order to promote West Africa’s development and its integration into the global economy.
They called for necessary measures to be taken to improve the disbursement of the resources of the EPADP.
They proposed further consultations with the private sector, civil society organisations and other stakeholders prior to the next Council of Ministers.
This, they said would be where the proposals will be considered before consideration and adoption by Heads of State and Government.
The proposals examined by the ministers emanated from the Feb. 6 meeting of the
Chief negotiators of the two parties held in Brussels.