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The European Union has signed a free trade agreement with Ivory Coast, marking an important step towards opening up trade between the two entities. The deal is expected to boost economic growth and create jobs in Ivory Coast, the world`s largest cocoa producer.

Under the agreement, Ivory Coast will have duty-free access to the European Union market, which is one of the largest in the world. This will allow the West African nation to export a range of products such as cocoa, coffee, and tropical fruits without paying any tariffs.

The EU is also looking to promote sustainable development in Ivory Coast by supporting the country`s efforts to improve governance, tackle corruption, and protect human rights. The agreement includes provisions that aim to strengthen environmental and labor standards, which are crucial for ensuring that trade is conducted in a responsible manner.

Additionally, the agreement seeks to promote regional integration in West Africa by establishing a framework for cooperation between Ivory Coast and other countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The free trade agreement between Ivory Coast and the EU is expected to have a positive impact on the country`s economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, Ivory Coast`s economy is projected to grow by 8.5% in 2021, driven by a rebound in exports, particularly of cocoa.

However, the agreement has also sparked concerns among conservationists, who fear that it could lead to an increase in the trade in elephant ivory. Ivory Coast is a major transit point for ivory trafficked from central and eastern Africa to Asia, and the country has also seen a surge in domestic ivory trafficking in recent years.

To address these concerns, the agreement includes provisions that prohibit the trade in ivory and other endangered species, and mandate the implementation of strict controls to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking.

In conclusion, the free trade agreement between Ivory Coast and the EU is a significant milestone in the economic development of Ivory Coast and the region. While there are valid concerns about the impact of the agreement on wildlife conservation, the provisions included in the deal demonstrate the EU`s commitment to responsible trade and sustainability.