‘Trade liberalisation costs Africa $270 billion’
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The president of the Least Developed Countries Watch, an international network of civil society organisations, has said that statistics received by his organisation revealed that trade liberalisation costs Africa a tune of $270 billion, and that it has not addressed the development needs of the continent.
Demba Dembelleh, who stressed the need to reverse the trend for the welfare of African people and all those found within the bracket Least Developed Countries (LDCs), made this remark on Saturday, September 8th 2012, at a day’s consultation forum on Istanbul Plan of Action on LDCs, held in the conference hall of TANGO.
Organised by members of civil society networks and the government of The Gambia, the forum brought together representatives from the ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs, Water Resources, Foreign Affairs, members of the civil society organisations in the country, among others. It was meant to set up a task force committee with representatives from different government ministries, departments and members of the civil society organisations in The Gambia.
Dembelleh further stressed that Least Developed Countries need trade liberalisation, but remained cautious that as long as the current trade liberation policies remained in force, LDCs will not benefit from these policies.“The trade liberalisation policies did not adequately address development needs of the LDCs; we also need to have debt cancellation and subsidies for agriculture production among others. Least Developed Countries across the globe are calling for a more effective and efficient trade liberalisation to enable them enhance and expedite their development process; hence move them from emerging economies to well developed economies,” he told the forum.
Recalling the first United Nations meeting held in France in 1981 on the need to eliminate or reduce the number of LDCs in the world, Dembelleh said it is unfortunate that instead of reducing them, the number is on the increase on a daily basis as indicated in the current trends of affairs and statistics found to that effect. He cited the 2010 Istanbul-Italy UN LDC meeting as the fourth of such meetings, and yet, the number of LDCs is increasing. He again stressed the need to have a drastic and strong measures put in place to reverse the trend for the benefit and welfare of the people of the LDCs.
The LDC Watch president said it has been confirmed that all the LDC programmes have failed, because they were aimed at reducing the alarming rate of poverty in the world, which kept on the increase instead. He spoke about the role of his organisation, which according to him, speaks for people who cannot speak for themselves through engaging governments to improve on the lives of their people across the LDCs.
Commenting further on the Istanbul Action Plan, Dembelleh noted that the said Action Plan in it aim of reducing poverty within the LDCs, is premised on eight priority areas, which include infrastructure, agriculture, health, and education amongst others. He emphasised the need for food security so as to contain the ‘unacceptable’ current global food crisis characterised by unprecedented surge in prices of goods and services, and its impact on the poor people found within the LDCs and the global economy.
He then recommended for African states to be more liberated and sovereign enough to take control of their development needs instead of dancing to the tune of the developed countries, whom he said, continue to put in place tough measures against development aspirations of the continent, as well as the LDCs. “We need African leaders who are true to Africa and are capable of addressing development needs of Africa. No foreign country will come to develop Africa for Africans. It is time for Africans to address their development needs at all times without reservation. We need to address trade liberalisation, women empowerment, good-governance, democracy, human rights, amongst others. We need to participate and control our destiny in global affairs,” with those recommendations, Dembelleh concluded.
Also speaking on the occasion, Action Aid International The Gambia’s Lamin Nyangado made a comprehensive analysis on MDGs beyond 2015. He covered wider issues relating to the MDGs, its implementation, impact on an average Gambian, and way forward.
Author: Sanna Jawara