AUC and British government discuss trade options

AUC The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Mr. Erastus Mwencha, on 21 July 2011 received in audience, Mr. Henry Bellingham MP, British Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mr. Mwencha acknowledged the important role of the British Government in promoting intra- Africa trade. He said Africa is working hard to improve its production quality and quantity wise, in order to meet the standard and competitiveness in the world markets. Such effort, Mr. Mwencha underlined, could be seen in the area of agriculture where the African Union has put in place a Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Program dubbed CAADP to develop agricultural investment at national and regional levels.

He recalled the launch during the 17th AU Summit in Malabo of the Pan African Campaign for the eradication of tsetse and trypanosomiasis (PATTEC) from all countries in Africa. He stated that the African Union is working with the Regional Economic Communities to ensure that the policies put in place by the AU are not only ratified by Member States, but equally domesticated.

The AUC Deputy Chairperson informed the British minister about the upcoming Trade ministerial meeting to be hosted by the Republic of Ghana in November 2011. The Minister welcomed this event as an opportunity for the British Government to send a representative to interact with the African ministers and share views on trade avenues between Britain and Africa.

The issue of drought was also discussed during the meeting. The Deputy Chairperson presented this issue as an emergency problem that needs urgent attention from partners and humanitarian organizations. He said the African Union is moving to assume leadership in the process of bringing humanitarian assistance to the victims of the ongoing devastating drought in the horn of Africa. In this vein, Mr. Mwencha announced that the AU is mobilizing national support, adding that, the AU alongside some partner organizations and countries will be visiting the site of the drought over this weekend to find solutions to save lives in the horn of Africa.

Other issues discussed during the meeting included; regional integration in Africa with the involvement of the RECs to enhance the process, the outcome of the 17th AU Summit and the preparations ahead of the 18th AU Summit where the British government has expressed the wish to participate as observers.

Meanwhile, Minister Bellingham submitted a letter from his government, inviting Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the AUC and Deputy Chairperson Mwencha to lead a delegation from the AU Commission to an international conference on cyber security scheduled to take place on 1-2 November 2011 in Great Britain. The conference will discuss norms of behavior and explore political and diplomatic mechanisms to enhance global trade.

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