TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Africa: Continent's nations should trade with each other

Monday, 17 September 2012

Source: East African Business Week (Kampala)

African countries have been urged to open trade amongst themselves if they want to develop and move their economies forward.

Speaking during the Open University of Tanzania (OUT)'s Faculty of Arts and Social Science 20 years' anniversary, the former Prime Minister of Tanzania Mr. Frederick Sumaye said there was a need for African countries to unlock trade amongst themselves for the benefit of their economies.

Responding to East African Business Week in Dar e Salaam last week, on why some African countries including Tanzania is still negotiating for Economic Partnership Trade Agreements (EPA) with Europe, while the said trade agreement were unfair to Tanzania and Africa in general, Sumaye said there was need for Tanzania and other African countries to look at the European markets and see if we are competitive enough to trade with big economy countries of Europe.

"We are trying to jump into these big markets while we know that we cannot cope, Sumaye said adding there were many restrictions trading with European countries markets that have so many equations to make"

He said Africa has a huge market and with the trade that Africa is trading with Asia and China if such trade was to be done amongst African countries, Africa was going to gain more than AGOA and Cotonou trade agreements that has not benefitted the continent.

Mr. Sumaye explained there were Multinational Corporation that were having great influence to trade and were controlling trade in the world for their owns interests and benefits.

"We (Africa) are too small to trade with European countries and we must think of doing business amongst ourselves and utilize the markets with our fellow African states, adding that there is no reason for someone to buy a European product if the same product is manufactured in Zambia with the same quality."

The former prime mister said that there is a dependency syndrome in Africa where African countries think European countries have the responsibilities to develop Africa and this syndrome has made Africa to lag behind economically.

He noted Africans should come up with the programs that will help the region to develop and stop from budget dependency which is failing most of the development projects in the region.

Sumaye said there was need for Tanzania and other African countries to make proper use of the available natural resources in order to benefit the majority of Tanzanians instead of these natural resources benefiting only those who exploit them.

"Being rich in minerals does not make a country rich; we need to stop trading in unprocessed commodities and instead we must turn these products into semi-products and add value to our products by processing them because that will lead to creating employment opportunities as well.

The former prime minister further pointed out that cutting down and exporting timber, cotton and other agricultural products will not make the country become rich but the country need to come with programs that will propel for the construction of industries so that it can export processed commodities.

The former minister however pointed out that, lack of adequate water and electricity are causing hindrance to the flourishing of investment in the region where investors are not assured of these services and doing business becomes expensive for their economy.

Sumaye noted there was need also to put supportive policies on private sector in order to accelerate investment in the country and see the private sector as a partner by supporting.

The third Phase President of Tanzania, Mr. Benjamin Mkapa has often been heard speaking against these international trade agreements especially EPA, trades that gives preferences to African countries in trading with the giant economies of the European and Western countries saying such trades were aimed at dwindling African economies and therefore not fit for East Africa and the continent at large.