E.U., Palestinians initial trade accord

BRUSSELS, Dec. 11 (JTA) — The European Union this week initialed a trade and cooperation accord with the Palestinian Authority. The move, which came as part of the E.U.’s objective of creating a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone, “reinforces the message that the European Union sees the Palestinians as equal participants in the emerging Euro-Mediterranean space,”according to an E.U. spokesman. The agreement was signed by European Commission Director-General Enrico Chioffi and by an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the name of the Palestinian Authority, which is not recognized to sign international accords. The E.U. has already concluded Euro-Mediterranean trade accords with Tunisia, Israel and Morocco. The accord signed this week confirms trade concessions that the E.U. has offered the Palestinians since 1986 for agricultural and industrial products. The accord is expected to be formally signed by the end of the month by the E.U. and the Palestinian representative. The E.U. is the largest donor of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. Since 1993, it has contributed more than $327 million for the development of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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