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    Monday, March 31, 2014

    EU denies losing African trade, investment battle

    The European Union has retained a substantial share of Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment, contrary to claims that the region has lost its share to Africa’s emerging partners.

    The Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union, Gary Quince, said trade between the two regions remained on a high growth path.

    However, the AU is concerned about Europe’s diminishing role in Africa’s trade and investment scene.

    With up to 60 heads of state expected to attend the fourth European-Africa Summit, both sides are examining the value of their partnership in qualitative terms.

    “We retain a huge mutual interest,” Amb Quince said on the trade relations between the two regions ahead of the Brussels Summit.

    EU officials insisted that contrary to claims that Europe’s role was actually on a decline in Africa, European aid to Africa had remained at 45 per cent of global aid inflows.

    Besides, European imports from Africa have been growing at an average of 46 per cent annually.

    AU Commission Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, said that dwindling European investment was noteworthy.

    “We have seen the diminishing role of Europe in Africa. There is an indication that Europe is gradually being edged out in Africa,” Mwencha told journalists.

    A report says that the AU wants the European partners to facilitate trade with Africa by supporting efforts to process its raw materials before export.

    Most African industry players have complained about their inability to export processed goods due to a combination of tax and health regulations.

    Mwencha said while Africa would welcome investments of up to $251bn, a determination to strike a reciprocal agreement was welcome if it addressed key points of concern by Africa.

    In 2012, the EU laid claim to 221 billion Euro worth of investment stocks in Africa.

    However, the amount of African Investments to Europe appears to be recording the biggest growth.

    “Between 2007 and 2012, during Europe’s worst global economic recession, African Investments grew seven-fold to 77 billion Euros.

    “It is clear that the growing investment from African corporate giants is behind the hosting of an African-EU business Summit,” he said.

    However, African corporate giants were behind a marked growth in telecom revolution.

    Quince said that a key section of the Brussels talks would focus on building trade between the two sides.

    Meanwhile, members of the Pan-African parliament would be attending sessions to network with the European Parliament.

    According to the summit of West African leaders, trade remains central to the current talks, failure by Africa to accept an Economic Partnership Agreement is likely to drag the discussions in Brussels.

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