The European Union confirms new support for trade in West Africa
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, March 17, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- European Commissioners Andris Piebalgs, for Development policy, and Karel De Gucht, for Trade policy, welcome today's Foreign Affairs Council conclusions confirming new EU support of at least €6.5 billion for the Economic Partnership Agreement Development Program (PAPED) for West Africa1 during the period 2015-2020. The funds will greatly enhance trade and investment flows to West African countries, thus contributing to their development, sustainable growth and poverty reduction.
The PAPED is an essential element of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiated with West Africa, and will provide funding for projects linked to trade, industry, transport and energy infrastructure in the region, as well as through support to civil society.
This substantial new commitment from the European Commission and the EU Member States, demonstrates EU's continuous support to West Africa's regional integration, which is the most advanced of the African continent.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: "EU's commitment responds to the needs expressed by West Africa and will allow the region to take advantage of all the opportunities of the Economic Partnership Agreement. The implementation of the EPA will be instrumental in creating favourable conditions to boost trade in the region and stimulate growth and job creation. The development of the region will also contribute to increase peace and stability in West Africa."
In 2010, the EU already pledged to provide €6.5 billion to support the PAPED for the period 2010-2014. This pledge was eventually increased and the EU has funded projects worth €8.2 billion (through the European instruments, Member States' bilateral cooperation and the European Investment Bank).
The region of West Africa1 includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Cap Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mauritania.
In today's Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, the European Union acknowledges the importance of the PAPED developed by West Africa during the negotiations of the EPA between the 16 states in the region and the European Union.
The PAPED has five objectives:
• Promoting diversification and growth in production capacity
• Development of trade within the region and improved access to internal markets
• Improvement and reinforcement of regional and national infrastructure linked to trade
• Fiscal, social and economic reforms, and other trade-related issues
• Implementation of EPA monitoring and evaluation
The PAPED is an essential step in the process towards the implementation of the future EPA. The EPA represents a new kind of partnership between West Africa and the EU in the sense that although it is a trade agreement, it has a specific development objective. It is designed to strengthen West-African economies via the production and export of a wider range of goods, and by increasing trade between the countries in the region.
The negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement between West Africa and the European Union have recently been concluded and endorsement at political level is expected in due course.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific regions engaged in a regional economic integration process. The EPAs were put in place to help ACP countries integrate into the world economy and share in the opportunities offered by globalisation.