Zuma: AU-EU ten year economic partnership a flop


President Jacob Zuma says the economic partnership that Africa entered with Europe 10 years ago has not produced the intended results for both regions.

“We are concerned that after ten years of this partnership we have very little to show in terms of tangible implementation of the undertaking we made in both Cairo and Lisbon,” he said at 3rd Africa-European Union Summit which ended in Tripoli on Tuesday. He cautioned the summit against committing on another Action Plan when commitments made in the past in this partnership have not been implemented, the state BuaNews agency reports.

Having established the partnership in Cairo a decade ago, the time had come for leaders to jointly review the structural paradigm of the partnership as well as its follow-up mechanism and funding.
“We recognise that the European Union (EU) has made great strides in its integration agenda since the 1950s. Likewise, the African Union (AU) has also made significant progress in the integration of our continent,” Zuma said.

The slow pace of rural infrastructure development in Africa also hampered the marketing and movement of agriculture products from one region to another. Despite the fact that Africa has abundant arable land and human resources that could potentially be translated into increased production, income and food security, the continent remained a region with the highest proportion of people who suffer from hunger, including the largest population of people living below the poverty line.
“Africa faces unique challenges with regard to agriculture and food security. These range from low productivity and poor infrastructure, to weak market access as well as weak institutions and policies.” Nearly all of Africa’s farming systems were dependent on rain-fed agriculture, and this makes our agricultural productivity entirely dependent on the environment and vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Zuma noted that the AU Summit in July launched the NEPAD priority infrastructure initiative, which focuses on agriculture and food security, amongst others with South Africa championing the North-South Corridor. This, he added, is a “concrete step” Africa has taken to become food secure.

But the emphasis on agriculture and food security cannot be considered without addressing the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals that were adopted by the United Nations.
“In adopting the MDGs, we also emphasised the special needs of Africa. Two months ago the world convened again in New York at the UN to review performance in meeting the targets in the MDGs, and to recommit ourselves to doing more in the remaining five years to achieve those noble goals”.

Zuma and his delegation further reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to developing mutually beneficial relationships with its partners in the developed countries of the North and the continent. These would include fostering of partnerships to ensure a combined effort in defeating the ills of poverty and underdevelopment, particularly in relation to South Africa and the continent.

Meanwhile, British Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, promised to double trade volume and bolster economic ties between South Africa and his native country by 2015. Bellingham made the pledge during his bilateral discussions with International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, yesterday in Pretoria.

The trade goal was set by President Jacob Zuma during his state visit to the UK in March earlier this year. Britain is one of South Africa’s major trading partners, while the former remains one of the top two largest foreign investors in South Africa. There are over 200 South African companies that have established a presence in the UK. Total trade between the UK and South Africa increased by over 100 percent (173 percent) between 1998 and 2008, from R25.492 billion to R69.630 billion.