Brussels, 27 September 2004
EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy travels to Tunisia on Tuesday 28 September to attend the Euro-Mediterranean conference on the future of textiles and clothing chaired by the Tunisian Trade Minister Mr. Mondher Zenaïdi. The event will gather trade Ministers from the EU and the Mediterranean basin to examine the challenges facing the textiles and clothing industry after the disappearance of the remaining WTO quotas on 1 January 2005. Before departing for Tunis Pascal Lamy said: “The way to remain competitive in textiles and clothing is to create an integrated trade and investment area around the Mediterranean rim. Uniting our forces we can make sure 1 January 2005 is no more than the beginning of new opportunities for this important industrial sector.”
During the Conference Ministers will examine the means to reinforce the competitiveness of the Euromed area so that it is capable of attracting much needed investment; it will also provide an opportunity to examine issues related to sustainable development, competition and the fight against counterfeiting; finally issues relating to regional integration of the Euromed area will also be addressed. A final declaration will detail the outcome of the meetings.
In the margins of the Conference Tunisia and Turkey will initial the free trade agreement recently concluded between them.
The EU is the world’s largest exporter of textiles products and the world’s second largest exporter of clothing after China. Textiles and clothing is the main industrial activity and largest employer in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. Textiles is the main export item for Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
The EU has concluded Association Agreements with all its Mediterranean partners, with the exception of Syria where negotiations are nearing conclusion. The EU has a customs union with Turkey.
Since 1995, several steps have been taken to enhance regional integration between Mediterranean countries, including the conclusion of the Agadir Agreement signed on 25 February 2004 aimed at creating a Free Trade Area between Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia by 2005. A free trade agreement has also been recently concluded between Turkey and Morocco.
The EU is the Med countries largest trading partner, representing around 50% of their total trade. In 2003 total trade amounted to € 165.775 mio
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