- A free trade agreement between Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco was signed today in the Moroccan tourism resort Agadir. The free trade agreement is an important step in the envisaged creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010, which will include close to 40 countries.
The Foreign Ministers of Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt today signed the so-called Agadir declaration, which provides for the creation of a free trade zone between the four south Mediterranean countries. In addition to the four initial member countries, the initiative is open to other Arab countries wishing to join in.
The agreement signed today will create an integrated market of more than 100 million people in the four countries involved. Nevertheless, it is just the beginning of a much larger common market of all of North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
By 2010, a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone of almost 40 states is to be established. This includes the European Union's 25 member countries, several more European countries and Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria in North Africa and the Middle East's Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian territory, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Negotiations to also include Libya are soon to be started.
Accordingly, the signature of the Agadir free trade agreement attracted observers from many countries. In addition to the Foreign Ministers of the four countries, top officials from the EU, the Arab League and all North African countries attended the Agadir meeting today. Also the Foreign Minister of Mauritania, Mohamed Fal Ould Bilal, was in Agadir, to assure that the West African dimension of the trade cooperation was not forgotten.
Chris Patten, External Relations Commissioner of the EU, was among the key guests in Agadir today. Speaking before his departure for Agadir, Commissioner Patten said he was "delighted to witness the conclusion of the Agadir Agreement." He added that the agreement "brings us closer to our joint objective of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010."
- It will create much needed momentum for Mediterranean regional integration and foster private investment in the region, Mr Patten said. "I strongly encourage other Euro-Med partners to join this agreement."
Pending conclusion of an agreement with Syria, the EU has already concluded far-reaching Association Agreements with all the other Mediterranean partners, in an effort at encouraging closer political, economic and social ties with the region. The agreement signed today, according to an EU statement, will be "providing new attractive opportunities for European investors in the region."
The European Commission has strongly supported the Agadir initiative since its inception and will continue to do so through a programme of euro 4 million, that will provide technical assistance to Agadir member countries and to its soon-to-be-established Secretariat, according to the EU statement.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.