African countries should strengthen trade within the continent, especially in farm goods, instead of waiting for new global talks on freeing up trade rules, a business group said on Monday.
The president of the Geveva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Bjorn Stigson, said it was unfortunate that the trade Doha talks round had failed to yield positive results.
But he said African nations could expand trade by promoting exports among countries on the continent, instead of waiting for a global deal.
"African countries need to strengthen trade relations with one another and not wait for the talks to resume again, especially in the field of agriculture," Stigson said in Johannesburg at the opening of the council's annual meeting.
The Doha talks, which had dragged on for nearly seven years, broke down in July after the United States and India failed to find a compromise on measures intended to help poor countries protect their farmers against import surges.
India, Brazil and South Africa are the main representatives of developing countries in the talks aimed at eliminating trade barriers between the emerging economies and the developed world.
Stigson said it would take a while before the Doha talks resumed, since both the United States and India were in the process of electing new governments.
"The new US administration will have to come into place. I think it will take some time before they focus on international trade negotiations. They are likely to focus on domestic matters," he said.
The council, which represents more than 200 leading companies and advocates for sustainable development, plans to discuss the implications of the global financial crisis on companies at its meeting this week.