EU's Juncker eyes free trade pact with Africa
(Updates after Juncker speech)
STRASBOURG, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The European Union should
offer a free trade agreement to the whole of the African
continent and a new investment alliance, European Commission
President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a keynote speech on
Among various proposals for EU action to bolster prosperity
in the world's poorest continent and Europe's close neighbour,
the Commission chief called for a more equal partnership and
investment rather than aid, as Europeans look for ways to stem
an economic divide driving Africans to try to migrate northward.
Juncker said he had talked with African leaders and was
proposing an alliance to boost sustainable investment, which he
said could create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next
While it was clear that a free trade pact would be some way
off, and well after Juncker steps down in a year's time, the EU
would look to take advantage of African efforts to forge a free
trade area within the continent to work towards a comprehensive
continent-to-continent trade agreement.
Trade between Africa and Europe, said Juncker, was not
insignificant - 36 percent of Africa's trade is with the
European Union, compared to 16 percent with China and 6 percent
with the United States.
"But this is not enough," Juncker told the European
"I believe we should develop the numerous European-African
trade agreements into a continent-to-continent free trade
agreement, as an economic partnership between equals."
The European Union already has a series of deals with
individual African countries, largely in North Africa, as well
as additional economic partnerships with African blocs, such as
the Southern African Development Community.
Other agreements with other African blocs and countries,
designed to increase access to the EU market and promote
development, are pending or partly in place.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)
First Published: 2018-09-12 06:00:00
Updated 2018-09-12 11:40:17
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