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Africa-EU Talks to Focus on Development: COMESA Chief
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Negotiations between Africa and the EU should not only focus on trade, but on development and increased access to resources and technology, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretary-general, Erastus Mwencha said on Thursday.


Speaking to journalists after a closed-door meeting with Zimbabwean Vice President Joyce Mujuru, at her Mhunumutapa offices, Mwencha said COMESA was in negotiations with the EU on how the African continent through the trading bloc could improve trade relations with Europe and improve the competitiveness of its products on the world market.


"Our negations with the EU should focus on development because for Africa, it is not only a question of trade," he said, adding the major issue was increased access to land, roads, resources, and capital, advanced technology and how to manage local resources such as fisheries.


"As COMESA, we need capital to produce more quality products so that we can compete with the world."


Mwencha's delegation included the president of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, Michael Gondwe, who said the bank was focused on managing the continent's financial resources to help enhance trade between Africa and the EU.

He said discussion with the EU so far had been a good indicator of improving trade relations COMESA is until Friday running discussions in Harare with member states on how they can benefit from the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).


Since 2000, the EU and countries of the African, Caribbean and the Pacific group (ACP) have been negotiating EPAs as part of the Cotonou Agreement. EPAs aim to establish new World Trade Organization compatible trading arrangements, removing progressively, barriers of trade between EU and ACP countries.


The EPAs are expected to build on regional initiatives of ACP states and promote sustainable development and contribute to poverty eradication in the ACP countries.


The EU is pushing for the conclusion of EPAs negotiations by December 2007.


(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2006)


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