Africa must take internal action to promote trade, UN says

18 May 2004
K. Y. Amoako

African countries trying to expand their trade must identify new sources of finance to strengthen trade capacity and replace lost income from lowered tariffs, but must not blindly liberalize trade, the chief of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said today.

Even though international action was vital to increase the success of Africa's trade, domestic bottlenecks must be cleared, ECA Executive Secretary K.Y. Amoako told the meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of Africa's Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, taking place through Thursday in Kampala, Uganda.

Trade within Africa amounted to only 10 per cent of the continent's total trade figures and regional integration could both stimulate export diversification and increase continental trade, he said.

Trade should not be blindly liberalized, however, because openness alone does not necessarily bring growth, he said. Instead, countries should draw up strategic development objectives that go beyond just protection and revenue maximization.

Meanwhile, the recent offer from the European Union's Trade and Agriculture Commissioners to eliminate export subsidies if the United States did the same had added momentum to trade negotiations, Mr. Amoako said.

 

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