Free trade is the most effective way wealthy countries can spur sustainable economic, political development in Africa, says paper.

WAM ABU DHABI: Free trade – rather than empty promises of aid – is the most effective way wealthy countries can spur sustainable economic and political development in Africa, a local UAE newspaper said today adding that it is in the interest of industrialised countries to promote development and good governance in this continent.

“Better telecommunications and social networks have increased popular support for holding public officials to account and provided the means to do so, helping to improve political governance,” The English language Gulf News wrote in an editorial comment.

“Increasingly, foreign governments and international companies are realising that it is in their own interest to support the social and economic development of a continent that is proving itself to be the next growth hotspot,” the paper said.

“For generations, Africa’s abundance of natural resources has been a curse. Those in pursuit of its wealth, sold its people into slavery, its communities and nations were subject to rapacious colonialism, which left in its wake vicious, greedy leaders who institutionalised corruption and bad governance in their countries.” In recent years, the paper noted, efforts to improve political governance, fast-track social development and boost economic growth across the continent have begun to be rewarded. Stories of success have begun to replace the litany of failures that often characterised reports from Africa.

The emergence of global economic powers, like India, China and Brazil, have sparked another scramble for Africa’s resources, resulting in new investment and opportunities for infrastructure development.

According to the paper, these new realities are finally beginning to take hold in some of the capitals of the world.

Ahead of the meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries, a conference on trade, transparency and taxation will try to find ways to ensure that those companies doing business in Africa do so in a manner that is in line with international best practice and that states receive their fair share of revenue. This will help wealthy countries tackle tax evasion by their international corporations and assist in reducing corruption in Africa. Free and fair business is the best way to create and distribute wealth and improve living standards, according to the daily newspaper.

It urged G8 countries to take the next step: cut subsidies to their agricultural and other industries, remove hidden tariffs and open their markets to African companies. ” “Free trade – rather than empty promises of aid is the most effective way wealthy countries can spur sustainable economic and political development in Africa,” the paper further remarked.

WAM/MMYS

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