URUGWIRO VILLAGE - President Paul Kagame yesterday held discussions with the Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pascal Lamy, on regional and international trade.
Lamy who is in the country to attend the African Union (AU) Conference of Ministers of Trade, said that he paid a courtesy call on President Kagame to discuss issues regarding trade between African and the developed countries as well as regional trade.
“We had an interesting discussion on trade; whether it is domestic or regional issues, trade integration in the East African Community, and of course what we do in WTO at the global level to try and help countries like Rwanda to trade more and developing more through trade,”
“For instance, we touched on reducing unfair agricultural subsidies by US, EU and Japan, and making sure that countries like Rwanda don’t bump into obstacles while trading in these markets, tariff and non-tariff barriers, tactical standards etc,” Lamy told the press after the meeting.
The French-born businessman and former European Commissioner of Trade, said the main conclusion of the discussions was that everyone has to work at their various levels, be it in government circles, regional blocs like EAC and global organisation, to ensure that trade works more for development.
He added there has been progress in trade globally but a lot of work remains to be done to ensure fair trade between Africa and other markets.
Lamy noted that the meeting of trade ministers in Kigali will be vital in preparing the ground for African countries to speak with “the same voice” in the worldwide organisation.
“This Kigali Summit is about making sure that African countries speak with one voice in the WTO on the basis of a single position, and secondly, it will try to move regional trade more within Africa,”
“You should look more at Africa than the Americas, Europe and Asia. It is amazing to know how little African countries trade amongst themselves. Very often we think that is difficult to trade with a fellow African country than it is with China. This is something that needs to be addressed,” Lamy observed.
He added that there is big potential within African countries that needs to be tapped than depending on distant destinations.
Lamy, who was accompanied by his deputy, Rwandan Valentine Rugwabiza, arrived in the country over the weekend and visited several parts of the country to assess the progress.
Among them was the Pyrethrum growers SOPYRWA, SORWATHE Tea Company, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and MAGERWA Customs office as well as Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA).
“I have had some visits on the ground which have helped know more how Rwanda is doing and what I have seen leaves me to think Rwanda is doing well in developing itself for the benefit of its population,”
“I am of the view that in the case of Rwanda, the vision is there, direction appears. My impression is that compared to a number of other African countries, Rwanda has become quite good at getting things done, which then may lead others to follow by example,” Lamy noted.
According to the Trade and Industry Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Lamy also briefed President Kagame on the status of Doha talks and how African countries, through NEPAD, and representing countries at the G20 Summit want to push for the fast tracking of the talks to the benefit of developing countries.
“However, what was really emphasised is that Africans should first focus on exploiting their potentials,” Nsanzabaganwa said..
She added that the idea is for Africans to appreciate what they have and don’t look afar for what they want when it can be obtained locally, and that is what the Ministers meeting will focus on.