European External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten will attend the signing ceremony of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco on February 25, 2004.
The accord, known as the Agadir Agreement, is a crucial step towards the envisaged creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010, according to an EU press release. The European Commission (EC) has been one of the main political supporters of this initiative since the Agadir Declaration was signed in May 2001 and it is also supporting it with a four million euro program funded under MEDA.
"This agreement brings us closer to our joint objective of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010," said Patten. "It will create much needed momentum for Mediterranean regional integration and foster private investment in the region. I strongly encourage other Euro-Med partners to join this agreement."
Pending conclusion of an agreement with Syria, the European Union 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 FTA will create an integrated market of more than 100 million people in the four countries involved, thus providing new attractive opportunities for European investors in the region.
The Agadir process, an important sub-regional initiative, was initiated by Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan at Agadir in May 2001. These four partners expressed in a Declaration their intention to set up an FTA among themselves. This initiative was also significant since it links Maghreb and Mashrak countries. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )