EU ministers have been asked to approve a trade deal negotiated by the European Commission and Albania, liberalising sales of various footwear and textile production input lines.

It says Albanian duties on a wide range of footwear imported from the EU, including boots, shoes and slippers made of leather, plastics, rubber and other materials, should be phased out over five years.

Also under the agreement, various wools, cotton, flax, hemp and silk waste lines imported would be exported to Albania duty free from the EU, as soon as the agreement is mutually ratified.

Meanwhile, the deal also includes rules on assessing whether textiles should be officially considered made in Albania or the EU for tariff purposes, giving maximum ratios for non-originating materials.

The agreement covers a range of other goods. Such wide-ranging deals are a common prelude for countries wanting to join the EU becoming a member state, when all duties and other restrictions would be removed.

By Keith Nuthall.