Tunisia obtains observer status of West African bloc
TUNIS, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Tunisia has just obtained observer status in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemais Jhinaoui told reporters here on Monday.
Jhinaoui also announced the signing of an agreement protocol with the West African intergovernmental organization to put in place an economic roadmap between Tunisia and this African body.
The protocol requires the implementation of an action plan that defines the sectors involved in this multilateral economic partnership, including agriculture, trade and development.
"For the moment, Tunisia will take part, as an observer, in the next meeting of this community scheduled for November in Togo," said Jhinaoui.
Cooperation between Tunisia and the organization will be crowned by the creation of a free trade zone between Tunisia and ECOWAS member states, the minister said.
Currently, Tunisia's trade with these countries accounts for only 1 percent of its total trade, according to Tunisian Minister of Commerce Omar Behia. The rate is aimed to rise to 10 percent.
"Bringing together 15 countries, the Economic Community of West African Countries guarantees the transportation of goods and the free movement of people between member states," said Marcel De Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission.
He noted the continental organization includes eight central banks, saying one of his ambitions is to create a single currency by 2020.