EU-Tunisia trade deal talks to begin in October: Essid

Tunisia intends to begin talks in October on a free trade deal with the European Union

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Tunisia intends to begin talks in October on a free trade deal with the European Union, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said during a visit to Brussels Wednesday.

“The complete and detailed draft free trade association... will soon see the day,” Essid said during a press conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.


“We intend to enter negotiations starting in the month of October,” he added. “I think it will be beneficial for both parties.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem welcomed Essid’s remarks during her visit to Tokyo ahead of an EU-Japan summit.

“I was delighted to hear his announcement that Tunisia is ready to launch negotiations on an ambitious partnership with the EU on trade and investment matters,” Malmstroem said on her blog post.

“This will be a major step towards progressively integrating Tunisia in the EU internal market and making Tunisia more attractive for investments,” she added.

Malmstroem said she would travel to Tunisia in the autumn to launch the trade negotiations with her Tunisian counterpart.

Like the United States, Europe wants to promote a stable Tunisia, the epicenter of the so-called Arab spring.

But since its January 2011 revolution, followed by democratic elections which have earned international praise, Tunisia has seen jihadist violence that has killed dozens of members of the security forces, mostly near its border with Algeria.

Tunisia is bordered to the east by Libya, which is torn by violence and lawlessness that have made it a springboard for smuggling thousands of migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.

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