Africa needed to industrialise and become integrated in the global industry so it could prepare and be able to weather the next financial crisis, South African Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies said.
“The problem with Africa is not that it is not integrated into the world economy but how it is integrated,” Davies said, speaking at the fourth China Round Table in Nairobi, Kenya.
He said Africa needed to cast off its colonial worldview if the continent was to join a modern world economy. Davies noted how even though colonialism brought many African countries into the global economy, it also “disadvantaged the African continent as African countries were importers of finished goods coming from originally former colonisers’ countries.”
Africa’s perspectives on the future of the continent’s trading system were discussed during the round table session, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta joined the discussion.
The Fourth China Round Table is sponsored by the Chinese government and hosted by the Kenyan government, while being organised by the World Trade Organisation Secretariat (WTO) ahead of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference being held on the African continent for the first time.
Davies noted that the value chains “have not benefited Africa” and he urged ministers who were responsible for Trade of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group States to “resist an attempt of ditching the Doha Development Round as it will have negative implications for developing countries”.
He said although support for the Doha Development Round was divided, most members believed the Doha mandate “remains valid.”
Davies said there was a need for the continent to “create regional value chains” and to slow down “importation of the finished goods and we must be given space as a continent to industrialise.”
He added that the continent needed to industrialise in such a way that it would be able to weather the next financial crisis.
Kenyatta said that the continent had given priority to “industrialisation and deepening domestic economy, legal, institutional and structural reforms” to allow it to become more competitive within the global economy.
He said, “If we are to industrialise, tariff escalation and peak tariffs should be eliminated. African economies producing competitively should not be halted with defensive trade remedies. Standards should not be the next frontier of protectionism,” added Kenyatta.