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Scramble on for African resources - experts

New Era (Windhoek) | 17 August 2007

Namibia: Scramble On for African Resources - Experts

Catherine Sasman

Both the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the fast-tracked Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) seem to reflect less a genuine desire in fairer trade for the true benefits of the African economies than securing access to relevant markets and mainly the exploitation of relevant natural resources in the interest of the European Union (EU) and the USA, said Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Dr Henning Melber.

"It is not in the interest for Africa to enter in the current EPA negotiations," maintained Melber.

AGOA offered close to 40 African countries preferential access to the US market through lower tariffs affording these countries comparative advantage over other competitors.

But, said Melber, the AGOA trade volume is mainly composed by the export of US-manufactured high-tech goods and machinery and the import of mainly oil, strategic minerals and other natural resources for meeting the demand of US-based industries.

So for example, he said, almost 20 percent of the US-imported crude oil is from Gabon, Angola, Nigeria and other African countries, with a forecast that oil imports from Africa to the USA will increase to at least 30 percent of the annually needed supply.

Trade analyst, Wallie Roux, who previously came under fire and eventual suspension from Meatco for criticizing the EU hastening African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries into the signing of the new EPAs, said the duty-free, quota-free agreement would have the effect that mostly the export raw materials will be given preferential trade provisions, and that value-added goods will be slapped with tariffs as set out in former trade agreements.