On Friday, March 20, the African Ministers of Trade concluded a two-day meeting. The Ministers discussed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, Aid for Trade, and other trade initiatives and issues at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Meeting during their Fifth Ordinary Session, the Ministers sought to create common ground between constituent states. They pressed for the creation of time-lines and for the unification of positions between countries in EPA negotiations. During the closing ceremony, Commissioner Elizabeth Tankeu reemphasized the need for Africans to speak with a strong and united voice within the international community.
The Ministers also discussed the impact of the financial crisis on African countries. Ato Girma Briu, Minister of Trade and Industry for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, argued that the financial crisis was not created by African countries. Instead, the Ethiopian minister blamed “the greed of certain financial operators in Western countries and the failure of their regulators to excise adequate control and supervision over the operators.” According to Briu, global demand for goods and services produced in Africa has witnessed “a sharp decline,” as a result of the crisis. This, coupled with decreases in development aid and financial investment will have “adverse implications for…the reduction of poverty and the attainment of political and social stability on our continent.”