EU urges east African nations to offer fair trade terms

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-8-18 9:48:29

The European Union on Saturday said that the East African Community (EAC) should offer it the same trade terms as it is offering other emerging nations.

Visiting Belgium Deputy Prime Minster Didier Reynders told journalists in Nairobi that this will promote the volume of global trade.

"We are therefore asking our EAC counterparts to offer us the same treatment as it is gives to other trade partners such as Brazil, India and China," Reynders said during a Kenya-Belgium business forum.

He said that it is useful for all countries to protect their local markets but it should be done in accordance with World Trade Organization rules.

"So, the EU is keen to develop an equal partnership for the benefit of the citizens of all countries," he said.

Reynders, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the EAC are almost complete.

"We are therefore optimistic that both parties will beat the 2014 deadline, so that trade is not disrupted," he said.

He noted that the African continent is the next growth frontier, after Asia.

"So we are willing to work with other countries in order to develop the region," he said.

Reynders said that Kenya must put investment more in infrastructure projects so as to reduce the cost of doing business.

He noted that Kenya's huge unemployment problem could be solved, if the youth are given skills that employers are looking for.

"Secondary schools should also offer technical education because not all students will be able to go universities," he said.

Reynders, who is also the Foreign Trade minister, said that Belgium is looking to partner with securities exchanges in Africa.

"This will play a big role in promoting the flow of international capital into Africa's fast growing economies," he said.

He added that regional integration is one of the ways to reduce conflicts that have plagued Africa.

"It is not possible to solve the conflicts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo or Somalia without involving its neighboring countries," he said.

"So, the EU is ready to assist EAC in the regional integration process," he said.

The Belgium official noted that no nation can develop without peace and stability.

He added that the EU is also willing to assist Africa with tackling the menace of trafficking of illicit goods such as drugs.

"The proceeds of these activities are normally used to finance terrorist activities in the region," he said. "Young people should also be able to find job opportunities so that they are not lured into unproductive activities."

The deputy prime minister said that the EU is showing some signs of growth after a period of economic stagnation.

Belgium Ambassador to Kenya Bart Ouvry said that the visit by the Belgium Deputy Prime Minister to Kenya is part of efforts to strengthen bilateral ties.

"We are also planning to organize a trade mission for leading Belgium firms to Kenya in November 2013," he said.

He noted that Belgium is the sixth largest EU exporter to Kenya.

Ouvry said that in 2012, total bilateral trade reached 160 million euros (about $212 million).

According to the envoy, Belgium exported goods worth 100 million Euros while it imported goods worth 60 million euros from the east African nation.

"Kenya's traded in agricultural products such as beans flowers while Belgium goods constituted of chemicals and machinery," he said.

He added that Belgium's development assistance is concentrated in education, healthcare and agricultural sectors.

Posted in: Europe

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