African countries warned against imposing trade restrictions

Monday May 11 2020

Trucks queue at one of the cargo handling

Trucks queue at one of the cargo handling bases in Industrial Area in Kampala on Monday April 27. Most of the recent confirmed Coronavirus cases in Uganda have been truck drivers from Kenya and Tanzania but government has allowed them to continue operating. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By MARTIN LUTHER OKETCH

Kampala- The African Union Commission (AUC), Afreximbank, AfroChampions and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) have jointly advised African Union member states to resist the temptation to adopt nationalist and protectionist measures by imposing restrictions to trade and disrupting value and supply chains.

This comes at a time when Uganda is experiencing increased Covid-19 cases due to truck drivers from the neighbouring countries.

In a joint communiqué issued recently, the African Union Commission, Afreximbank, AfroChampions and UNECA Joint Communique said critical global, regional and domestic value and supply chains, the lifeblood of international trade, have not been spared by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The communique states that World Trade Organisation projects have experienced a worst-case scenario of a 32 per cent decline in world trade and the resultant impact on overall economic growth shall be considerable.

“African Union member states must, therefore, resist the temptation to adopt nationalist and protectionist measures and postures, imposing restrictions on trade and disrupting value and supply chains, but must look instead to coordinating regional and continental responses and measures to address the health and economic challenges,” a joint communique reads in part.

It adds; “Pooled and integrated intermediate industrial inputs procurement strategies, for instance, are no longer academic; they are an indispensable element of the urgent imperative. So also is the need to recognise the opportunities afforded by cooperation in harnessing the likely resilience of services and trade as the continent strives to support the current levels of cross-border trade-in goods.”

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The four institution’s officials included Mr Albert Muchanga, the commissioner department of Trade and Industry AUC, Prof Benedict Okey Oramah, president and chairman of the Board Afreximbank, Mr William Lugemwa Director Private Sector Development and Finance Division UNECA and Mr Paulo Gomes Co-Chair AfroChampions Initiative.

According to the joint communique, African Union member States with multifaceted development challenges stand the risk of prolonged agony as a consequence of these disruptions, pointing out that coming on the back of declining commodity prices, rising protectionism and heightened debt service burdens, the crisis threatens to wipe away decades of gains.

“There is hence need for an equally unprecedented and coordinated trade and economic policy response from African institutions and governments to ensure that the worst impacts of the pandemic are mitigated, and to position for the inevitable post Pandemic economic restructuring,” the communique reads.

moketch@ug.nationmedia.com

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