A trade accord signed by Algeria and the EU that delays the lifting of tariff barriers will allow Algiers to avoid an $8.5 billion (6.8 billion euro) loss in customs duties, the commerce minister said Tuesday.
“Algeria lost $2.5 billion since the entry into force of the association agreement with the EU in 2005, up to 2009,” Mustapha Benbada told a press conference in Algiers.
“A simulation shows that Algeria would lose $8.5 billion if an agreement was not reached to delay the lifting of tariff barriers with the EU and the establishment of a free trade zone,” he added.
Algeria announced last week that its trade agreement with the European bloc, due to come into force on September 1, will delay the lifting of tariff barriers on industrial products that the North African imports from 2017 to 2020.
It also envisages a readjustment to preferential quotas for the EU on agricultural products.
The EU is Algeria’s largest trading partner, accounting for 57 percent of its international trade, with average annual imports of European products of around $20 million (16 billion euros), Benbada said.
Energy-rich Algeria is the EU’s third biggest supplier of natural gas.
The head of the European section at Algeria’s foreign ministry, Ismail Alawa, said on Tuesday that the three-year delay in the trade agreement was “motivated by purely commercial and economic considerations.”