Close to 30 trade ministers have been meeting in Kigali to deliberate on the continent’s trade issues.
The key objective of the conference was to harmonize our position as Africans on various issues, especially on how negotiations with the World Trade Organization and the Economic Partnership Agreement can be successfully concluded.
Statistics indicate that Africa’s share of world trade has dropped to 3 percent from around 6 percent 25 years ago.
It should, however, be noted that exports in the service industry from Africa grew at an average annual rate of 14.2 percent between 2008 and 2009.
Africa now needs to open up to new markets. We are witnessing the emergence of China and India as potential preferential trade partners. But we are still constrained by many challenges including customs procedures and required standards to compete favorably.
In Rwanda, we are already looking ahead to comply with international standards by sensitizing private operators on the products offered by the emerging trade partners.
We have also created one-stop border posts aimed at facilitating neighboring countries to utilize one border for all clearing services in order to ease trade.
We should start viewing initiatives like AGOA as partnerships and not favours, given by the US to Sub-Saharan Africa. We should ask and encourage all African investors to be as aggressive as their Chinese and Indian counterparts, as well as those from other emerging economies, for increased impact on AGOA.
And, finally, since trade in services has been more resilient to global economic crisis than trade in goods, there is need to put more efforts on exports of services from Africa.