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Cape Verde aims for free trade zone with Atlantic islands - Premier

Cape Verde aims for free trade zone with Atlantic islands - Premier


<p>The Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde hopes to create a zone of free circulation for people and goods with the nearby Spanish Canary Islands and Portugal’s Madeira and Azores, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva said on Monday.</p> <p>Cape Verde, made up of 10 islands off the West African coast, hopes to boost economic growth and tourism with such a deal, which could be helped further by plans to scrap all visa requirements for European travellers from the start of 2019.</p> <p>“Our objective is to reinforce our links with Macaronesia,” Correia e Silva told business leaders and politicians at a conference in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Cascais.</p> <p>Macaronesia is the term used to describe the Atlantic archipelagos that include the Canaries, Cape Verde, Madeira and the Azores, which are all major tourist destinations for Europeans.</p> <p>“We are very advanced in our efforts to create a legal framework for an area of free circulation, for goods and people,” in Macaronesia, he said. “Our economic integration with Europe goes through Macaronesia.”</p> <p>Cape Verde, a windswept, volcanic archipelago, was a Portuguese colony until 1975 and still has close links with Lisbon, where there is a large community of Cape Verdians.</p> <p>It has seen stronger economic growth than most of the sub-Saharan countries in mainland Africa and in 2008 shed its Least Developed Country (<span class="caps">LDC</span>) status.</p> <p>The International Monetary Fund has put Cape Verde’s 2017 growth at 4 percent and expects it to reach 4.3 percent this year. Correia e Silva, whose government took office in 2016, said he stood by a pledge to deliver annual growth of 7 percent.</p> <p><strong>“NO <span class="caps">THREAT</span> TO ANYBODY”</strong></p> <p>The prime minister said Cape Verde had passed legislation to abolish all visa requirements for Europeans and hopes the European Union will do the same.</p> <p>“We are a small nation and are no threat to anybody,” he said. Cape Verde has a population of 500,000 but has large emigrant communities in Portugal and elsewhere in Europe.</p> <p>Correia e Silva said Cape Verde was changing laws to make it easier for foreign investors to invest. Legislation was recently passed to hold foreign exchange accounts and transfer funds without restrictions.</p> <p>The country links its local currency to the euro, which circulates freely in the economy.</p> <p>The prime minister said Cape Verde was also working to boost its position as a hub for air travel – between the Americas and Europe and Africa – as well as hoping to become a digital hub for Africa. </p> <p><strong><em><span class="caps">REUTERS</span></em></strong></p>
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