Page last updated at 00:34 GMT, Friday, 30 November 2007

Geldof unveils African trade plan

By Konstantin Rozhnov
Business reporter, BBC News

Bob Geldof
Mr Geldof compares Africa to China when its economy was not booming

Poverty campaigner Bob Geldof and Africa advocacy group Data have introduced an African Trade Initiative ahead of the EU-Africa summit.

Its aim is "to ensure that Africa is able to grow through increased exports and regional trade".

But Data argues European Union is "rushing" Africa into "potentially unfair" trade agreements.

Mr Geldof also told the BBC that the developed world had failed to deliver its promises on Africa.

"The initiative emphasizes the urgent need for further opening of EU and US markets to African products, reform of subsidies that harm African producers and enhanced aid for trade commitments that address Africa's supply-side challenges," Data said.

Trade agreements

Among other things, the African Trade Initiative highlights EU efforts to introduce new trade deals with former Europe's colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Critics of the EU's trade agreements are gambling with livelihoods in the developing world
Peter Mandelson and Louis Michel, EU commissioners
These Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are set to replace earlier preferential trade agreements that linked the EU and a lot of its trading partners but have been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization and expire at the end of the year.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda accepted EPA earlier this week.

Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner, and Louis Michel, the EU development commissioner, have written in The Guardian that "critics of the EU's trade agreements are gambling with livelihoods in the developing world".

Aid for trade

But opponents argue EPA could damage some of the world's poorest countries, as their markets will be opened to unfair competition from EU.

It's time for the Old Economies to come to Africa
Bob Geldof
"The African countries that have signed will get 100% access to EU markets, but in return they have had to agree to specific tariff reductions on EU products," Data said .

Mr Geldof also said that "we should not enforce trade liberalization on the poor".

Trade is the key to deal with the extreme poverty, but it is not happening because Africa's commodity-based economies are not attracting enough money, he said.

Mr Geldof thinks the developed countries should protect Africa through "aid for trade" scheme as US did for Europe after the WWII, and it will "stop people dying on our TV screens".

The Old Economies used to be afraid of China, and now "people are excited about prospects of China and India", he said.

"It's time for the Old Economies to come to Africa," Mr Geldof said.


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