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NGO says trade talks could pit one African national against another

Voice of America

NGO Says Trade Talks Could Pit One African National Against Another

By Joe De Capua, Washington

13 April 2006

As African trade ministers continue their meeting in Nairobi, NGOs are trying to make their positions known on various issues, including the economic partnership agreement being negotiated between the EU and African states and agricultural subsidies used by rich nations.

Econews Africa is an organization that helps civil society groups get their message across. John Ochola is a program officer for Econews Africa. From Nairobi, he told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua that the way current trade negotiations are set up, one African nation may be pitted against another.

“Yes, it does specifically have to do with the agreement within Africa and the European Union. We have been divided into least developed countries and developing countries. In some regional configurations like the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, some member states are developing and some are classed as least developed. But least developed countries have been given a special dispensation to export all their products into the EU duty free, so long as it’s not arms, of course. But other countries such as Kenya, who’s a developing country, will have to negotiate an economic partnership agreement, which is basically a free trade area. So, some member states might not be in a position or might not see it in their best interests to move into the regional configuration. We’re urging member states to remain united in their quest to carry on the African Union and to create regional blocks, which will be the building blocks for a continental integration of Africa.”

African trade ministers continue their meeting through April 16th