Four Arab countries in trade bloc talks
Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa will travel to Rabat on Tuesday, May 8, for a meeting with his counterparts from Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan to pave the way for a regional trade bloc, government officials said on Monday.
"Moroccan Foreign Minister (Mohamed Benaissa) has invited the foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan for a meeting that will announce...the signing of an association agreement between the four states," an Egyptian official said.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the agreement would be similar to an association agreement between the European Union and each of the four countries, which seeks to bolster trade relations.
The four-member alliance will be open to any other Arab country wishing to join, he added.
The EU has started negotiations with the 12 Mediterranean states as part of the so-called Barcelona process of cooperation between the EU and its southern neighbors.
The association agreements call for closer economic, political and social ties. The ultimate goal is to establish a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone of 27 countries by 2010.
Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan have already signed association agreements with the EU. Egypt is due to sign its own agreement in Brussels in the last week of June.
Egypt's Moussa said earlier this week that the EU was the largest trade partner for each of the four Arab countries.
The EU has recommended that southern Mediterranean countries enter into negotiations to reach regional association agreements. — (Reuters, Cairo)
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