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Africa: Trade

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures his Department is supporting to promote trade between African countries. (226680)

The Department for International Development's (DFID) work to facilitate trade between African countries is mainly focused in east and southern Africa. In east Africa, DFID is preparing a major new regional programme which will help to facilitate trade between East African Community member states (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi). It will focus on reducing the costs of trading across borders by supporting one stop border posts, customs reforms and the development of revenue sharing arrangements between countries.

In southern Africa, DFID funds the Regional Trade Facilitation Programme. This aims to make it quicker and easier for businesses to trade between countries. Important activities include harmonisation of trade-related regulations and procedures, introduction of one stop border posts, and promotion of exports into the south African market.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures his Department is supporting to promote the manufacture of goods marketed in finished form from Africa, rather than the export of raw materials. (226681)

Much of Sub-Saharan Africa has been a relatively difficult place for manufacturing activities. Key reasons for this are poor infrastructure, particularly roads, ports and power infrastructure, a poor business environment and restrictive rules of origin in trade agreements.

The Department for International Development (DFID) works on all of these agendas. For example, DFID provides support to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA). This encourages a joined-up approach among donors and partner governments to meet Africa's urgent infrastructure needs. We also provide support to the Investment Climate Facility for Africa which is a new private-public partnership, focused on improving the investment climate in African countries.

DFID's soon to be launched Aid for Trade Strategy will set out how we will support countries to become more competitive traders. In parallel, DFID continues to press for more development-friendly trade agreements with African countries. This is particularly evident in the ongoing negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), where we are arguing for more liberal rules of origin for African exports.