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06.07.2005 General News

Africa needs free and fair trade not aid - Jonah


Accra, July 6, GNA - A research fellow at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) on Wednesday urged the African Union (AU) to concentrate its effort on accelerated economic growth before considering the formation of a United States of Africa (USA).

Dr Kwesi Jonah, IEA Research Fellow in charge of Governance Issues, said the key to Africa's economic emancipation laid with the improvement of good governance, enabling environment for industrialisation and not in the creation of a USA.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the outcome of the African Union Summit, which took place in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte prior to the G-8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, Dr Jonah urged individual African states to strive for higher economic growth rate, free and fair trade from the G-8 States instead of aid. Libya has proposed for the creation of a United States of Africa, common market for Africa, super-ministries at continental level and a single African passport.

Dr Jonah said he supported the AU Leaders' call for a total debt cancellation, stressing that the G-8 was obliged to make life better for Africans through the reduction of poverty, higher inflow of global investment fund and redirection of the huge agricultural subsidies given to European and US farmers.

He said the EU and US together spent over one billion dollar a day to subsidise their farmers.

Dr Jonah also urged AU Leaders to press the G-8 to demonstrate their commitment to Africa by creating balanced economic trade systems, which would allow African and other developing countries to compete favourably with the developed countries, especially members of the G-8. Western nations' agricultural subsidies especially to cotton producers go against G8 countries' new determination to help Africa and economic rules of free and fair trade.

Dr Jonah said he also supported the AU Leaders' call on development partners to commit themselves to increasing their aid to 0.5 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) latest by 2010 and to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2015 and to stop attaching strings to the aid they gave. "We need free and fair trade not aid," he said.

On the debt cancellation, the IEA Fellow indicted the developed world especially the western powers for contributing to the Continent's debt through their support for dictators in the Cold War era and beyond. "We, therefore, need unconditional debt cancellation to give the new leaders of the Continent a fresh start," he said, stressing that adherence to the tenets of good governance should not be the yard stick for debt cancellation and challenged all creditors including the multinational, bilateral and commercial institutions, to follow suit. The Group of Eight countries, popularly referred to as the G-8 - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - last month extended a 40 billion-dollar debt relief package to 18 poor countries, 14 of which are in Africa.

The Group is meeting to decide the fate of a multi-billion-dollar plan to wipe out debt, open up trade and provide aid to Africa at their annual summit starting on Wednesday.

Several African heads of state have been invited to present the AU's agenda, especially the outcome of the Libya Summit. 06 July 05