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EU starts push for new trade pacts with North Africa

The European Union began talks with Morocco on a free-trade deal on Friday, the EU's first in a planned series aimed at deepening trade ties with North African nations two years after a wave of Arab uprisings.
"Just announced the launch of negotiations for a free-trade agreement with Morocco," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on his Twitter feed from Rabat.
The negotiations are the first part of a European strategy to draw North African neighbours closer to the 27-country EU.
Arab uprisings toppled Arab leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in 2011, but King Mohammed VI defused protests in Morocco by announcing constitutional changes and holding an election that brought an Islamist-led government to office.
The European Council, which represents the member states, approved the idea of deep and comprehensive free-trade agreements with Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia in 2011.
Trade between the EU and Morocco amounted to roughly 24 billion euros of goods in 2011, and the EU is keen to open up trade in the services sector.
Morocco is the largest recipient of European neighbourhood aid, money given to the EU's immediate periphery, with 580.5 million euros ($760 million) earmarked for 2011-2013, according to the European Commission.

full atrticle here : Reuters
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