The Istanbul Conference gathering Trade Ministers from the EU and the Mediterranean countries will discuss further steps to foster trade and economic relations between both sides. High on the agenda will figure the recent adoption by Mediterranean countries of measures to simplify customs procedures, discussions to open trade in services and measures to approximate standards and technical regulations. Ministers will also have an opportunity to discuss the on-going WTO talks under the Doha Development Agenda and in particular the progress to be achieved by the end of July.
On the eve of his departure for Turkey EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: ?I am pleased to see that the action we took last year in Palermo to simplify customs procedures and approximate our technical regulations is bearing fruits. Our next objective should be to open up trade in services which will contribute to the integration of the Euro-mediterranean region.?
Trade facilitation: the meeting will review the measures adopted by the different countries to simplify customs procedures, review customs codes, use single document for customs declarations, following the recommendations stemming from the last Euromed Trade Ministerial in Palermo in 2004.
Trade in services: the meeting will discuss the adoption of measures to open up trade in services between Euromed countries, complementing the opening up of trade in goods already underway by virtue of the Association Agreements concluded.
Standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment: the meeting will also call for the implementation of an Action Plan aimed at approximating the legislations of the Euromed countries on these issues, to remove barriers to trade and facilitate the flow of goods.
The Istanbul meeting will also review the implementation of the new system of Pan-euro-med rules of origin adopted in Palermo last year. Discussions will also focus on issues surrounding the European Neighbourhood Policy and its impact on the Barcelona Process, so as to highlight the coherence and the comprehensive linkage between these two processes, as well as the latest developments in multilateral trade negotiations in the framework of the Doha Development Agenda.
The Barcelona Process
The first Euromed Trade Ministerial Conference took place in Brussels in May 2001, followed by Toledo in March 2002 and Palermo in July 2003.
One of the goals of the Barcelona Process is to create a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area by 2010. To this effect the EU has concluded Association Agreements with all its Mediterranean partners, with the exception of Syria where negotiations are nearing conclusion. The EU has a customs union with Turkey and the Association Agreement with Algeria is in the process of ratification.
Since 1995, several steps have been taken to deepen the south-south dimension of the Barcelona process and to enhance regional integration, including the conclusion of the Agadir Agreement signed on 25 February 2004 aimed at creating a Free Trade Area between Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia by 2005. integration. In the future, other Mediterranean countries may join the ?Agadir? Free Trade Agreement. A free trade agreement has also been recently concluded between Turkey and Morocco.