WTO warns African countries against becoming a ‘fortress’ for trade

0
308
  • Certainly at the WTO, we see African integration as a stepping stone towards further integration between Africa and the global economy,” said the director-general.
  • African leaders met in Kigali, Rwanda, last month to sign a declaration of the establishment of a free trade area on the continent. This, if fully put into practice, would be the largest bloc of its kind in terms of member states since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Recent progress made by African nations towards establishing the world’s largest free trade area was backed Monday by the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Roberto Azevedo warned, however, that the continent must remain outward looking.

The notion of a continental (free trade) area, I think, is something that should be supported by everyone,” he said, speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London.

“Certainly at the WTO, we see African integration as a stepping stone towards further integration between Africa and the global economy.”

“But, Azevedo warned that countries should avoid taking the “wrong road.”

He said that discussion needed to include “how to make sure that the integrated processes do not become a fortress,” and instead be used as a “step to open up” rather than shutting off other forms of global trade.

“The integration of Africa is an important point of integration into the world,” he said.

African leaders met in Kigali, Rwanda, last month to sign a declaration of the establishment of a free trade area on the continent. This, if fully put into practice, would be the largest bloc of its kind in terms of member states since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

The agreement is proposed by the African Union, a collective of 55 countries on the continent. It is touted as encompassing a market of 1.2 billion people with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion — and intended to encourage Africa’s trade to diversify away from its traditional commodity exports outside of the continent, the volatile prices of which have hurt the economies of many countries.

Forty-four African countries signed the pact in March, although sub-Saharan Africa’s two biggest economies hesitated.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa only committed joining the agreement at some point in the future, while Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend the summit at all. Both cited the need to resolve domestic issues first, for example working with labor unions over feared job losses.

Azevedo also highlighted the need to improve infrastructure in Africa to better facilitate trade. “Because although they are neighboring countries, sometimes in Africa it’s easier to connect to Europe or to other markets than to themselves.”

SHARE
Previous article9Mobile: NCC says bid winner must show technical capacity before getting license
Next articleGlobal economy to grow 3.5 pct in 2018 but trade is key risk – IIF
Godwin Okafor is a financial journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and the Founder Naija247news Media Ltd He has over 16 experiences in journalism, which cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career in Business Day, Where he was a senior editorial graphic artist, before he left to start Naija247news, An Online Financial Newspaper in 2010. He has won series of awards and he is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.com and also sits on the board of Students In Business Awards, (SIBA).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here