01 April 2014, Abuja – The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has endorsed, in principle, the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, negotiations with the European Union, EU.
A statement signed by the ECOWAS spokesperson, Mr Sunny Ugoh, on Monday, said that regional leaders made the endorsement during the 44th Ordinary Summit in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, on March 28.
It said that the EPA negotiations and the Development Programme, EPADP, were the key issues discussed at the summit.
The statement said that the meeting recommended that the region’s chief negotiators should take appropriate measures to resolve outstanding technical issues within two months before the signing of the agreement.
“The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government endorsed the conclusion of the agreement in principle but noted that there are outstanding technical issues.”
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, recalls that the negotiations received a new impetus in October 2013 when regional leaders, after an extraordinary summit in Dakar, urged the parties to demonstrate flexibility.
It said that both parties had been working over 12 years of negotiations to narrow their differences before signing the agreement which would create a World Trade Organisation, WTO, compliant arrangement.
It explained that the new arrangement would replace the previous non-reciprocal regime that had guided trade relations between them.
“The Yamoussoukro summit commended the Senegalese President, Mr Macky Sall, who was earlier designated to lead the process for the resolution of the outstanding issues being negotiated,” it said.
The statement said that it welcomed the “participatory, consensual and constructive approach” that characterised the process and “paved the way for the finalisation” of the negotiations with the EU. *NAN