Country Report Central African Republic August 1997 Main report

Foreign trade & payments: EU agrees to pkg for Ctrl African states

EU representatives and delegates from seven Central African states (the CAR, the other five members of the Banque des etats de l'Afrique centrale, and former Zaire) met in Yaounde on March 6-7 to sign the framework agreement for a five-year, CFAfr55bn (around $95m) regional aid programme. Some 70% of the money will be allocated to support efforts to promote regional economic integration, including improvements to transport links and assistance over the technical aspects of economic and monetary union. However, the integration initiative has been hampered by a number of factors, including the instability in the CAR and Congo, Cameroon's reluctance to open its market to outside competition, and rivalry between Gabon and Cameroon over the role of regional leader. A further 20% of the EU money will be allocated to environmental programmes, such as the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity and the development of sustainable forestry. The Central African states contain some of the last remaining relatively undamaged tropical rainforest, the protection of which is an increasingly important priority for donors. The remaining 10% of EU funds will go to a range of projects in education, health, training, research, culture and regional cooperation.

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