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Business News of Tuesday, 25 November 2003

Source: GNA

Africans need to monitor trade agreements - Manuh

Professor Takyiwaa Manuh, Director of the Institute of African Studies, Legon on Tuesday called on Africans to critically analyse and monitor trade agreements for their expected impact.

She noted that despite the numerous trade and investment negotiations with the advanced country collaborators, levels of poverty rather keep soaring on the continent.

Professor Manuh made the point at the opening of a four-day regional review conference of the Gender and Economic Reforms in Africa (GERA) Programme, in Accra.

The conference, would examine the second phase of the gender and advocacy work of the GERA, which started three years ago, with a view to enhance their advocacy skills to speak for themselves on trade and business issues with their political leaders.

The conference would also forge a way forward to lobby policy makers and better influence decisions on issues affecting women in trade in the 11 African countries in which the programme runs.

Participants from the 1O countries including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Kenya, Morocco and representations from Canada, are attending the conference, which is being organised by thee Third World Network (TWN), a civil society group. The conference is on the theme: "Gender Trade and Investment in Africa."

Professor Manuh said there had been a tendency to taking agreements, signed to improve trade relations for granted, adding that it was necessary that the effects of such agreements were monitored to assess the impact they made on the lives of the people.

She said any regional integration effort without understanding the ongoing negotiations within the European Union, and other regional blocks would not achieve much because negotiations in Africa were affected by events in those blocks.

She called for trade negotiations to take into account poverty levels, and incorporate gender and human rights issues in them.

Dr. Yao Graham, Co-ordinator TWN, underlined good research as basis for good advocacy work and said he was hopeful that the review segment would reflect and feed into the future plans of Programmes.

Dr Graham said it was necessary that African leaders did not limit their scope of small business to organised ones like the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) and the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) but widen their undertakings to cover small businesses and petty traders who formed the bulk of the source of revenue at the Local Government level.