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Friday, 23 June, 2000, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
New trade deal replaces 'Lome'
uganda banana factory
The deal brings in trade and co-operation pacts with individual nations
A major trade and aid agreement linking the European Union and almost 80 nations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, has been signed in the city of Cotonou, in the Republic of Benin.

The Cotonou Agreement will replace the Lome Convention, which was, for 25 years, the cornerstone of the economic relationship between Europe and the developing world.


The Cotonou Agreement
Increased aid of 20bn euros
End to preference for imports
Rules on good governance
Restrictions on immigration
Seven year term
It was going to be called the Suva accord, until the recent coup attempt in Fiji. Togo lost the honour after criticism of its human rights record.

The new deal requires ACP countries enjoying special trading status with the European Union, to respect human rights and democratic principles.

About 5,000 people attended a four-hour ceremony at the city's Friendship Stadium which included delegates from 92 nations.

The EU is expected to provide 20bn euros ($18.85bn) over seven years to ACP countries provided they uphold basic principles of good governance.

The new accord also provides for a progressive removal of restrictive trade barriers over the next 15 years.

The BBC European Affairs correspondent William Horsley says negotiations for the new deal were particularly difficult because the two sides had to accommodate the sometimes demanding rules of the World Trade Organisation, WTO.

The WTO did not exist the last time the Lome convention was updated.

'Unacceptable conditions'

On the eve of the signing, Cuba - which has observer status at the ACP regional grouping - reiterated its position that it will not join the new accord because of European criticism of Cuba's human rights record.

The Cuban Minister for External Economic Relations, Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, speaking in Benin, said conditions governing the trade pact are unacceptable, and Cuba did not want discriminatory treatment from the EU.

"My country cannot accept that other states tell it which political system to choose. We have no need to copy others," said Cuban Ambassador Rene Mujijie.

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