World super powers the United States and the European Union are said to be pressurizing African countries to reverse the decision adopted by their trade ministers to implement the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation agreement.
According to Inter Press Service (IPS) Service, at last week’s summit of the African Union leaders in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, there was unprecedented pressure and bulldozing to change the decision reached by African trade minister onApril 27 in Ethiopia to implement the trade facilitation (TF) agreement on a provisional basis under paragraph 47 of the Doha Declaration.
Malawi sent at five member delegation to the Equatorial Guinea Summit and was led by George Chaponda, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Director for economics and external trade in the Kenyan Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Nelson Ndirangu told IPS that “this pressure comes only when the issues and interests of rich countries are involved but not when the concerns of the poorest countries are to be addressed”.
The TF agreement was concluded at the WTO’s ninth ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, last year.
It is aimed at harmonizing customs rules and regulations as followed in the industrialized countries.
The US and EU, according to IPS, stepped up their pressure by sending security officials to Malabo to oversee the debate, forcing other African countries not to join ministerial consensus to implement the TF agreement on a provisional basis.
“Several other African countries subsequently retracted their support for the declaration agreed in April.
“In a nutshell, African Union leaders were forced to change their course by adopting a new decision which reaffirms commitment to the Doha Declaration Agenda and to its rapid completion in accordance with its development objectives,” says IPS.
It adds that the decision taken by the African leaders is clearly aimed at implementing the TF decision, but there is no clarity yet on how to implement the decision.
Effort to get Malawi’s position on the matter through Chaponda proved futile as his mobile could not be reached.