19.05.2004 Business & Finance

ADB Meetings would focus on trade issues

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Accra, May 19, GNA - The forthcoming African Development Bank Annual Meetings in Kampala, Uganda would focus on how the members could take block decisions on trade issues when dealing with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Briefing the Ghana News Agency before emplaning for Kampala, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said; "it is important for the different blocks in Africa to discuss issues and sing one voice at our main meetings with the WTO and other trading blocs. "We are going to use the ADB/ Economic Commission of Africa Meetings in Kampala as a platform to fashion out a single agenda that caters for us all."

The 2004 Annual Meetings start from Tuesday May 24 and end on May 28 with the usual highlight symposium fixed for May 26. Mr Osafo-Maafo said the Meetings would strategize on a new trade policy direction for Africa.

"It is important to put trade at the front burner of all discussions, especially issues pertaining to fair trade."

He explained that with the collapse of the WTO Talks in Cancun, Mexico last year, the opportunity had come for African countries in particular to come out as one body to make their case known.

The Finance and Economic Planning Minister said the Meetings would also address the introduction of barriers to trade within some regions such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Central African Development Community (CADC).

Mr Osafo-Maafo said it was strange that community nations after signing agreements introduced trade barriers in the form of tariffs and bans.

He noted that Africa would push consistently for the removal of farm subsidies in Europe and America, adding: "I am happy that Prime Minister Tony Blair has decided to lend support to this."

He said, "the ADB Meetings would also review the involvement of the non-regional members of the Bank Group; ask for increased replenishment, even though this might not be easy considering the current world socio-economic order".

The 2004 African Development Bank Meetings, like last year's is being held back-to-back with that of the Economic Commission for Africa, thus providing a platform for over 400 Finance Ministers, Governors of Central Banks, Corporate bodies, Journalists and major economic players across the continent and beyond.

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