ECOWAS, EU discuss poverty alleviation, economic integration

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- A tripartite meeting of ECOWAS, EU and the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA), opened in the Senegalese capital Wednesday focusing on poverty alleviation and economic integration.
The four-day consultative meeting for the programming of the regional co-operation for West Africa, is under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF), which will run from 2002 to 2007.
It is concentrating on trade and economic integration and transport in West Africa as well as good governance, conflict prevention and social issues such as education, health and culture.
The meeting is expected to adopt a document on regional co-operation strategy for ECOWAS, to cover the Community's eight-member UEMOA, under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement signed in June 2001 between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
The objectives of the regional co-operation strategy are poverty reduction and the integration of the economies of West African countries into the global economy.
Senegal chairs both ECOWAS and UEMOA.
In his address of welcome, Senegalese Economy and Finance Minister Abdoulaye Diop, thanked the EU for its relentless efforts towards improving the well-being of the peoples of the sub-region.
The Minister said the outcome of the meeting should contribute to the promotion of the ideals of the sub-region, which are in consonance with those of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
The ECOWAS Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Policy Harmonisation, Mame Cor Sene, called for greater efforts to reduce poverty in the sub-region.
He said ECOWAS was tackling the problem through its programmes, including free trade area and the promotion of peace and security.
Sene expressed the hope that with the stronger political will being shown by the leadership of the Community, poverty would be adequately addressed, especially within the context of the 9th EDF.
He noted that activities under the programme must be supported by good governance and sustained democratic principles, consolidation of peace and security, as well as gender issues.
UEMOA President Moussa Traore paid tribute to Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade for his contributions towards the integration and development of Africa, particularly the West African sub-region.
He said the meeting should help concretise efforts at improving the economies of West African countries, through quality inputs to the strategy document.
Traore also expressed gratitude to the EU, which has committed some 100 million Euro to UEMOA since 1996 and called on other development partners to emulate the EU's pioneering role in regional integration.
He stressed that any integration strategy in West Africa must be based on the strengthening of existing organisations.
In his introductory statement, a Deputy Director-General of the European Commission, Anastasios Theodorakis, said participants should share in the orientation and guidelines of the strategy document for the sub-region.
He reiterated EU's preparedness to assist initiatives aimed at addressing challenges and problems that threatened regional stability, such as insecurity and external pressures from globalisation.

05 Junho 2002 22:57:00




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