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EDD17 - Boosting Investment for ACP Inclusive Trade and Development

Posted on: July 06, 2017

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The 11th edition of the European Development Days (EDD 2017) took place in Brussels at Tour & Taxi on 7-8 June 2017 under the theme of “Investing in Development”. The EU-ACP TradeCom II Programme, EU-ACP Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA),  and the EU-ACP Technical Barriers to Trade Programme (TBT) jointly organised two debates on pressing development issues in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (the ACP Group).

Boosting Investment for ACP Inclusive Trade and Development

The session “Boosting Investment for ACP Inclusive Trade and Development - Harnessing Investment Opportunities to Empower ACP Member States as the World’s Next Emerging Economy” moderated by Viwanou Gnassounou (Assistant Secretary General, ACP Secretariat) was aimed at showcasing ACP Group as the next generation of the world’s emerging economy and presented intra-ACP initiatives aimed at spurring investment opportunities to support trade expansion and sustainable development.

In her opening key-note address through a video link during the first session, Dr. Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim (President of the Republic of Mauritius) captured the key themes and issues addressed by the two panels. According to Dr. Gurib-Fakim, meaningful intra-ACP trade opportunities need to be developed and consolidated where they already exist. To achieve this, the ACP economies must keep on the diversification process. One of the area of focus will be agribusiness for small scale farmers through improved productivity and processing. If agriculture is developed properly, it will address food security and bring millions out of absolute poverty.
Dr. Gurib-Fakim recognised the strong and evolving relationship between the EU and ACP but one must be mindful of the expiring day of the ACP EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement in early 2020. There is a call for a more focused engagement in light for the scheduled negotiations with the ACP partners in 2017-2018 to ensure that the benefits of, for instance, the TradeCom II Programme initiatives will lead to sustainable economic development and poverty reduction through closer regional integration and increase participation in the global economy.

Roberto Ridolfi (Director, Sustainable Growth and Development, DG DEVCO) highlighted the crucial role played by the EU funded TRTA, like the TBT Programme and Tradecom II. The first, now in its closing phase, all over the last four years has proven the importance of standards and the need for ACP to overcome TBTs. TradeCom II is a powerful instrument to promote EU-ACP trade agenda particularly in this moment when discussions on post-Cotonou are ongoing.
Trade is the largest economic dimension, it is at the heart of development as it can trigger inclusive growth and sustainable investments that will lead, ultimately, to peace, stability, poverty alleviation and better life. The DEVCO Director also mentioned how innovation and research are instrumental to development and to the empowerment of ACP economic potentialities.  Finally, Roberto Ridolfi recalled that the capacity policy has to regulate trade and ensure inclusive growth.

Pamela Coke-Hamilton (Executive Director, Caribbean Export Development Agency) pointed out that Caribbean region should look closer at Africa and how it is becoming the new economic tiger continent. Under the 10th EDF, the Caribbean region focused on how to promote investments and developed a regional strategy aiming at leveraging the regional potentialities. In order to attract investments in the near future, the Caribbean region should enhance its economies of scale at regional level and expand it at each single country.
Pamela Coke-Hamilton also mentioned that the intra-ACP collaboration is critical to take full advantage of the EPAs. It is paramount to identify areas of interests and share best practices in the common goal of developing intra-regional trade.

According to Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa (Advisor to the International Monetary Fund – IMF) ACP States should promote governance and accountability through dedicated agencies that “prevent the state from morphing into a Leviathan”. More private-public partnership is needed, along with the use of new technologies to make states more efficient i.e. e-government, e-taxes, e-banking, etc.
Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa pointed out that sustainable development is at stake and how to ensure an inclusive growth is the current challenge for all the ACP states. Many ACP states, especially in Africa, have seen above average growth in the past decade and a half mainly because of natural resources exports. The evidence is that growth has not been shared equally and inequality has increased in some countries.  It is clear that it’s time to take action to start the process of economic transformation and the climate change is certainly a challenge that governments must address.

Masego Marobela (Managing Director, Botswana Bureau of Standards) recalled that one of the major challenges regarding trade facilitation in Africa is certainly linked to the disparities of National Quality Infrastructure that affect, in a negative way, the trade environment. The established Pan African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI) along with the RECs like COMESA, EAC, SADC have already put in place sub-region structures to provide mechanisms to progressively reduce these TBTs, but a lot still needs to be done.  
Masego Marobela stressed out that, in order to boost investment for ACP inclusive trade and development, first step should be to put in place an effective infrastructure and then to enhance alliances and cooperation at sub-regional, regional and international levels.

Following the speakers’ presentations, during the Q&A session, questions from the audience were asked about how to increase regional trade of African products and which role the youth organisations and NSA can play to ensure inclusiveness.
Roberto Ridolfi stated that in order to enhance trade capacity, the investment environment must be safe, reduce the risks to attract investments from both national and international entities. ACP states need to enforce the rule of law and fight corruption and can count on partnership and dedicated technical assistance on legal enforcement.
Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa encouraged young generations to take an active part in the economy, to get proactive in the engagement with the private sector and in the public sphere.
Masego Marobela shared these views and stated that NSA have a role to play in the decision-making process and can contribute to shape policy and its enforcement.
Finally, Pamela Coke-Hamilton stressed out that political will is crucial to drive change and urge the ACP countries to move on a more inclusive and sustainable approach to development and trade.

 

Programme funded by European Union at the request of ACP Group - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM