Algeria’s president has requested the country’s trade minister reassess a deal with the EU, ahead of a free trade agreement due to come into effect on 1 September.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune asked Kamel Rezig to “carry out an assessment… of the dossier of the association agreement with the EU, which must be the subject of special attention, asserting our interests for balanced relations,” according to an official statement released late Sunday (9 August)
Algeria and the EU created a free trade zone on 1 September 2005, as part of an association agreement that sets out economic, social, cultural and judicial cooperation.
The deal set a 12-year transitional period for Algeria to phase out its tariffs, including on industrial products. The period was extended until 2020 for certain products such as steel, textiles, electronics and vehicles.
Political and business leaders have heavily criticised the proposed full implementation of the free trade zone, viewing it as being largely to the detriment of Algeria.
According to Ali Bey Nasri, president of the national association of exporters, Algeria imported €240 billion in goods from the EU between 2005 and 2017, while exports, mainly of petroleum-based products, only reached €10 billion.
He said the free trade zone would be “a disaster for the national economy”.
The EU is Algeria’s largest trading partner, and Algeria is the EU’s third-largest supplier of natural gas after Russia and Norway, according to the European Commission. Algeria’s main imports from the EU are machinery, transport equipment and agricultural products.
Algiers has repeatedly asked to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.
It says the EU has failed to respect a part of the deal concerning the transfer of technology and the movement of people and has asked the EU to encourage European companies to invest in the North African country.