The African Union objects to the imposition of trade sanctions by the United States against African countries it perceives to have violated democratic principles, an AU trade official said.
The United States routinely denies some African countries access to its market, through the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) which gives preferential treatment to certain African exports such as textiles.
Last month, it withdrew benefits under the arrangement from Madagascar, Guinea and Niger, citing an “undemocratic” transfer of power in each of the countries.
Elizabeth Tankeu, the AU commissioner for trade and industry, said the group had tried to explain to Washington the withdrawal of benefits only hurt investors who spent money to develop exports to the United States.
“We have asked them to separate political issues from economic issues,” Tankeu told reporters on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 53-member organisation.
She said trade arrangements such as AGOA should strive to accommodate the aims of the leaders of the African continent.
“The regime should be compatible with the integration agenda being pursued in Africa.”
Tankeu said some developed countries were seeking more market access at the expense of the development components of the negotiations, adding that the global financial crisis had caused the pace of the talks to slow down.
“Some major actors are only laying emphasis on market access not development issues there has been no movement since 2008. There has been no change,” she said.
The commission would convene a meeting of its member states to discuss the emerging issue of land leasing on the continent by foreign countries keen on growing food to enhance their food security, Tankeu said.