Author(s): Yinka Oni
November 26, 2013
The ECOWAS Commission, on Monday decried the global trade imbalance against Africa” as the continent’s share of the global trade stood at a paltry 3 per cent.
The Commissioner for Trade, Customs, Industry, Mines and Free Movement, Ahmed Hamid, while speaking at the opening of a workshop on ‘Trade and Environment’ in Abuja, said: “The global trade increased from 13 trillion dollars in 2000 to an estimated 30 trillion dollars in 2010. Africa’s share in world trade has been declining since 1980 and currently stands at about three per cent. As such, African countries have not benefited from the steady increase in the volume of international trade”.
Mr Hamid, who was represented by Gbenga Obideyi, Acting Director, Trade, ECOWAS Commission, said the crucial role of trade flows and investments in growth and development was well recognised; adding that there is a strong and justifiable drive by African countries to expand their share of global trade.
He said African countries were increasingly taking steps to address challenges that hampered intra-African trade with the objective of expanding trade flows.
According to him, there is need to address the challenges in the relationship between trade and other economic, social and environmental sectors.
He urged African countries to embrace environmentally sound production and distribution of commodities which could expand their domestic and international market access.
The Chief, Green Economy and Natural Resources Section, Special Initiatives Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Isatou Gaye, said trade played a vital role in economic diversification of Africa.
According to her, trade is important in accessing and diffusion technologies and practices that can be deployed for enhancing the integrity and productivity of ecosystems.
“This is important to West African countries in which the well-being of the majority of the people and the prospects for sustained economic growth are intricately and inextricably linked to environmental sustainability,” she said.
Representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), John Maughan, said that Africa currently had its share of global warming more than ever before.
Mr Maughan urged African countries to be conscious of climate change by embracing environment-friendly industrialisation and engage only in trade that was “environmentally relevant”.
Devin McDaniels, representing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at the workshop, said WTO rules provided sufficient policy space for members to implement environmental protection measures.
The three-day workshop would enhance the knowledge and strengthen capacity of the ECOWAS Commission and its member states to generate, share information negotiate and formulate coherent trade and environment policies.