30 Nov 09 - UNCTAD representative attends International Conference on ´´Partnership for the Poor´´

VENRO the Association of German Development NGOs African and European representatives from the fields of politics, business and civil society met at an international conference to discuss a joint EU-African strategy to attain the Millennium development Goals.

We will develop this partnership of equals, based on the effective engagement of our societies, in order to achieve significant results in our fundamental commitments, namely: the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
Joint Africa-EU Strategy
Declaration, December 2007

In December 2007, European and African heads of state and government adopted the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which was to mark the beginning of a new political partnership at eye-level. Since 2007, however, things have gone rather quiet on the Strategy, and it has received only little public attention.

An international conference “Partnership for the Poor” is aimed at taking stock two years after its adoption. In what way has it been of any use to the poor so far?

Questions addressed:

  • In what way has the Joint EU-Africa Strategy been of any use to the poor so far?

  • What risks and opportunities does the Joint EU-Africa Strategy bear when it comes to combating poverty?

  • Are changes of direction necessary in politics?

  • What is the role of civil society in Africa and Europe?

An UNCTAD representative participated in a panel discussion, which addressed: how trade, regional integration and infrastructure can contribute to poverty reduction; and the measures required to enhanced inter-African trade.

Summary of presentation:

  • The UNCTAD Economic Development of Africa Report 2009 on "Strengthening Regional Economic Integration for Africa's Development" has shown that there are important unexploited trade opportunities within Africa. However, realizing this potential will require addressing some key impediments to trade. Prominent among these is poor infrastructure, both soft and physical, as it increases transport costs substantially, which in turn reduce the competitiveness of the traded goods.

  • At the international stage, there are also several ongoing developments which will certainly play an important role in determining the future of intra-African trade and the continent's integration into the world trading system.

    The most prominent now are the negotiations for Economic and Partnership Agreements (EPA) between Africa and the European Union.

    The EPAs should help Africa to put in place the hard and soft infrastructure needed to strengthen the economic integration among African countries and pave the way for higher FDI flows and more intra-African trade, resulting in higher rates of economic growth. Therefore African countries should take a proactive stance by analyzing and identifying their needs in terms of both hard and soft infrastructure support. Given that strengthening regional integration is one of the main mandates of the EPAs, African countries should take full advantage of this. EPAs could influence African regional trade through their development component.

The conference, held in Bonn, 30 November 2009, was organised by VENRO, the Association of German Development NGOs, in co-operation with the European umbrella organisation CONCORD and Deutsche Welle.



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