European financial markets chief pledges Africa protection

Afrique en ligne Europe’s top internal markets official, Michel Barnier, has pledged to institute special measures to protect African countries from speculation, which is responsible for the fall in key commodity prices and the rise in food prices.

Speaking on his second visit to the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Barnier said he was taking steps aimed at ensuring full transparency in the international markets to protect African producers.

The European Internal Markets Commissioner said the African producers of key commodities such as oil, copper, gold and coal, were vulnerable to speculation at the international markets, which affected the prices of the main natural resources from Africa.

“This continent is particularly vulnerable to speculations on natural resources and agricultural products, which scale has increased over recent years,” the EU Delegation to the AU said in a statement, quoting Barnier as saying during a meeting.

The EU Commissioner met with the African Union Commission President Jean Ping and other senior officials to discuss the global financial crisis, the instability of the financial markets, caused by speculation and other issues affecting trade on African commodities.

In cooperation with the AU, the European Commissioner confirmed his determination to enforce transparency and oversight of transactions on these natural resources markets in order to limit excessive speculations and their consequences on food security.

The officials decided to strengthen cooperation between the AU and the EU commissions as well as with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa and the United Nations, in the fields of interior markets and financial services.

They agreed to look into issues such as quality of norms (standards), public markets, intellectual property, fight against counterfeiting, financial criminality and money laundering, according to a statement sent to PANA Sunday.

Barnier has been invited to present the European agenda on regulation and supervision at the meeting of Ministers of Finance, which will take place in March 2011, in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

African countries have been affected by the recent global financial crisis, which saw most of the countries dependent on oil exports suffer losses.

Countries which produce copper, like Zambia and other natural resources, have also suffered severely.

In most of the countries, exports declined due to reduced demand as a result of the global economic slowdown in early 2008 to 2009.

Barnier, who visited the AU after his visit to Washington, for his second visit outside of the European Union since he took office, chose to meet officials of AU, to exchange on the lessons to be learnt from the financial crisis.

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