Bookmark and Share

The leaders of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed to initiate dialogue as they seek to resolve a border dispute between the latter and Djibouti, according to Abdinur Mohamed, the communications director in the office of the Somali president.

 

Djibouti in July petitionedthe United Nation’s security council, asking the body to ‘facilitate an agreement between them upon a mutually acceptable means of peaceful dispute settlement’.

The disputed land in question is the Dumeira mountain and Dumeira island which Djibouti claims is being illegally occupied by Eritrea.

Both Somalia and Ethiopia have been actively working to achieve the normalisation of relations between Djibouti and Eritrea.

Takeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Nations told the security council in July, that Addis Ababa had conducted fruitful and useful discussionswith the Djibouti foreign minister.

Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, also travelled to Djiboutiin August to discuss his own country’s normalisation of relations with Eritrea after he was criticised for calling on the United Nations to lift sanctions on Eritrea.

An arms embargo imposed on Eritrea since 2009 was chiefly to do with its alleged support for Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab but also because of its agression against Djibouti and refusal to enter any form of mediation over the disputed regions.

Calls for the 2009 Eritrean sanctions to be lifted has been strong in recent months following the peace deal between the country and Ethiopia.

The Djibouti – Eritrea standoff is seen by most political and security analysts as the final rift needed to be solved to restore durable peace to the Horn of Africa region.

The leaders of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed to initiate dialogue as they seek to resolve a border dispute between the latter and Djibouti, according to Abdinur Mohamed, the communications director in the office of the Somali president.

 

Djibouti in July petitionedthe United Nation’s security council, asking the body to ‘facilitate an agreement between them upon a mutually acceptable means of peaceful dispute settlement’.

The disputed land in question is the Dumeira mountain and Dumeira island which Djibouti claims is being illegally occupied by Eritrea.

Both Somalia and Ethiopia have been actively working to achieve the normalisation of relations between Djibouti and Eritrea.

Takeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Nations told the security council in July, that Addis Ababa had conducted fruitful and useful discussionswith the Djibouti foreign minister.

Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, also travelled to Djiboutiin August to discuss his own country’s normalisation of relations with Eritrea after he was criticised for calling on the United Nations to lift sanctions on Eritrea.

An arms embargo imposed on Eritrea since 2009 was chiefly to do with its alleged support for Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab but also because of its agression against Djibouti and refusal to enter any form of mediation over the disputed regions.

Calls for the 2009 Eritrean sanctions to be lifted has been strong in recent months following the peace deal between the country and Ethiopia.

The Djibouti – Eritrea standoff is seen by most political and security analysts as the final rift needed to be solved to restore durable peace to the Horn of Africa region.

Nevsun Finds a White Knight in Zijin With $1.41 Billion Deal

 
Source: Bloomberg
  • Miners are chasing copper supply on outlook for tight market

Zijin Mining Group Co. agreed to buy Nevsun Resources Ltd. for $1.41 billion to add copper assets in Serbia and Eritrea and enable the Canadian firm to ward off a hostile bid from rival Lundin Mining Corp.

Zijin, a Chinese gold and base metals producer, will pay C$6 per share in cash, trumping Lundin’s C$4.75 a share bid launched in July, the companies said Wednesday. Nevsun rejected repeated overtures from Lundin this year, saying that its offers undervalued the company and its assets.

Lundin Launches Hostile Bid After Nevsun Rebuffs Advances

The fight for Nevsun highlights how miners are scrambling to acquire copper reserves amid forecasts that supply of the metal used to make cables and wires will be tight in coming years on increasing demand for power generation and new energy vehicles. The company’s prized Timok copper-gold deposit is among just a handful of projects that aren’t already controlled by a big miner.

Lundin Chief Executive Officer Paul Conibear argued that his company was better positioned to provide the financing needed to develop Timok, as well as Nevsun’s Bisha mine in Eritrea. However, Nevsun CEO Peter Kukielski said last month the company had received interest from several companies and expected to find a better offer. Vancouver-based Nevsun’s board had spurned a joint offer made public in May by Lundin and Euro Sun Mining Inc. as “complicated” in structure and too low.

The deal also comes days after Zijin won a tender to buy Serbia’s state-owned RTB Bor. It offered to invest almost $1.5 billion in the country’s biggest mining and smelting company over six years, according to the energy and mining minister last week.

China’s Zijin Wins Serb Copper Miner Pledging $1.5 Billion

While mining companies are bullish on the longer-term prospects for copper, the price has slumped almost 20 percent in London this year as a strengthening dollar, escalating trade disputes and emerging market turmoil damped the outlook for demand.

 

The Zijin offer is a 57 percent premium to Nevsun’s closing price on May 7, the day before Lundin first publicly announced its intention to acquire the company. It is not subject to any financing conditions.

— With assistance by James Poole

Source=https://eritreahub.org/china-invests-in-eritreas-mining-buying-nevsun-to-obtain-bisha-mine

Russia In Talks With Eritrea To Set Up ‘Logistics Center’ On Red Sea Coast

September 01, 2018 01:20 GMT

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
 
 

Russia is in talks with Eritrea to set up a logistics center at one of the North African country’s seaports, Russian news agencies cited Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on August 31.

Eritrea occupies a strategically significant location on the Red Sea across from the Arabian Peninsula on a major shipping route between Europe and Asia.

Lavrov did not specify where the center would be located, but he said the project would be aimed at developing bilateral trade in agriculture and mining as well as helping Eritrea develop its transportation and energy infrastructure.

“A negotiation process is under way regarding the creation of a logistics center at one of the ports in Eritrea to boost our bilateral trade,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax, after talks with his Eritrean counterpart Osman Saleh in the Russia resort city of Sochi.

Lavrov said the center will advance “promising joint projects involving shipments to Eritrea of specific transport agricultural equipment,” as well as help Russian businesses establish contacts in the country, Interfax reported.

The Kremlin will be encouraging Russian companies to take part in African projects, including building regional transportation corridors and cross-border pipelines, he said, adding that the Eritrea region presents “excellent opportunities” for “economic integration” with Russia.

Russia has been pursuing closer ties with a number of African countries in recent months, including signing a military cooperation with the Central African Republic and developing closer military relations with Egypt.

The negotiations with Eritrea also come as Moscow is beefing up its naval presence in the nearby Mediterranean Sea, where Russian forces are backing Syria’s government in a seven-year civil war against Sunni rebels.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax

Source: Shabait

Senior delegation on working visit to Russia

Asmara, 31 August 2018- Senior Eritrean delegation composed of Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Presidential Advisor Mr. Yemane Gebrab is on a three-day working visit to the Russian Federation.

The delegation met and held talks today, 31 August in Sochi with the Russian Federation Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov on the development of mutual relations and on issues of interest to both countries.

 
 


Eritrea Ethiopia flags

1 Comment

Eritrea-Ethiopia: A Confederation We Didn’t Vote On


Opening a dialogue with the Eritrean opposition is not “an issue at all for the people of this country.” Yemane Gebreab, presidential adviser
 
Eritrea’s rapprochement with Ethiopia may have removed the threat of conflict, but it poses a new challenge for the one-party Red Sea state that’s long prioritized a war-footing with its giant neighbor over democracy.
 

After decades of conflict and tension, the calm is a novelty for the nation that sits on a key shipping route to the Suez Canal and has known only five years of official peace since seceding from Ethiopia in 1993. After the two fought a 1998-2000 war, Eritrea stifled dissent and indefinitely suspended time-limits on national service, spurring tens of thousands of people to flee to neighboring countries and Europe.

Now, as Ethiopia’s leader promises multiparty democracy, a top Eritrean official says President Isaias Afwerki’s government will “have to respond and provide options for people to consider.”

Yemane Gebreab

Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

“We want to create a situation of political participation of our population and we want to devise ways of doing that so people can have a say in how their country and their government is run,” presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab said in an interview in the capital, Asmara.

The ruling party is working on “political structures, forums, discussions” where “people could have an input — a say in their lives — in the administration of their country,” he said, without elaborating or providing a timeline.

Slow Process

Reform in Eritrea — home to an estimated 3.2 million people, according to its National Development Ministry — may prove slow for a country that lacks a working constitution, free press or independent civil society and has long been lambasted for its human-rights record by the United Nations and advocacy groups.

The government has said it’s planning political changes before: Yemane spoke of “an inclusive participatory process” in nation-building during a 2015 discussion forum in Vienna, and Isaias announced late 2014 that Eritrea was drafting a new constitution.

As recently as 2015, the UN listed Eritreans as the fourth-biggest group risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean, adding to Europe’s refugee crisis. Eritrea describes those fleeing as economic migrants, seeking salaries higher than the roughly $120-$270 per month paid in the army and civil service before automatic deductions for items such as housing.

Eritrea Port

Photogrpaher: MAHEDER HAILESELASSIE TADESE/AFP/Getty Images

“People are expecting some kind of democratic opening,” said Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean journalist and human-rights activist based in Sweden. “The hopes for change are very high.”

Eritrea, which is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, has been under UN sanctions since 2009 because of allegations it supports Islamist militants in Somalia — a charge it argues is politically motivated. Ethiopia recently called for the embargo to be lifted.

Mining, Pipeline

The economy has been mostly isolated too, although Nevsun Resources Ltd.of Canada and China’s Shanghai Sfeco Group have mining operations with the state that are producing gold, copper and zinc, according to the Energy & Mines Ministry.

The new friendship with landlocked Ethiopia — which has Africa’s fastest-growing economy and a population of more than 100 million people — raises the prospect of it again using Eritrea’s ports. An oil pipelinebetween the nations is planned.

Multiparty elections planned in Eritrea’s neighbor may be a step “that works for Ethiopia,” adviser Yemane said. “We’re focusing on creating the ground here whereby all citizens can enjoy their rights. We want to free ourselves from prescriptions of dogmas. We want to craft a political situation that works for us here in Eritrea, that responds to the aspirations of our people.”

Abiy Ahmed, left, and Isaias Afwerki celebrate the reopening of the Embassy of Eritrea in Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said work will begin on the constitution soon.

The drafting process “was interrupted because of war, not because the government didn’t want a constitution,” he said. “It will be worked out, though unlikely before the end of the year with many priorities amid the dawn of peace.”

‘Wonderful Opportunity’

Adviser Yemane said the focus will be on economic, social and cultural development that was “held back for 20 years” and that peace gives “a wonderful opportunity.”

No one underestimates the challenges. Eritrea’s ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice is under the firm control of Isaias, the 72-year-old ex-rebel leader. Former high-level officials who’ve criticized his rule have been imprisoned and held incommunicado, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

A UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea in 2016 accused officialsof committing crimes against humanity, including enslavement, rape and murder over the previous quarter-century. Eritrea’s government rejected the report, saying it had “no solid evidence.” A 2017 study at the University of Leiden described a “complex regional system involving government officials, military personnel and criminal gangs” used to smuggle Eritreans abroad.

People walk in the streets of the Eritrean capital of Asmara.

 

No Rebel Dialogue

While Ethiopia’s political opening has included the government reaching out to opposition groups — including those it previously designated terrorists and were based in Eritrea — its neighbor hasn’t made similar overtures.

The presidential adviser says dialogue with Eritrean rebels hosted by Ethiopia isn’t “an issue at all for the people of this country.”

Eritrean opposition in the diaspora are planning to protest at the UN in Geneva later this month against the “undeserved sympathy” Asmara is getting from “regional and global actors” even as the human-rights and political situations remain unchanged, according to Harnnet, an opposition website.

If there is real change, then says Michael Woldemariam, assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, “the potential economic dividends for the Eritrean people are huge.”

“The movement of resources away from national defense to more productive economic activities will have a positive impact,” he said. “If combined with economic and political reforms, the possibilities for the country are limitless.”

Source=https://eritreahub.org/war-is-over-now-comes-the-hard-part-for-eritrea

" There is no permanent government but permanent people"

" The dictatorship in Eritrea will pass one day"

 The coming Geneve Convention must work on this issue

 CODE- Convention for Democratic Eritrea    

The case of interim –constitution and permanent constitution.
What is the difference between interim and permanent constitution.
Interim –constitution is a legal framework providing a basis for the democratic transition.
Interim or provisional or transitional are the various names given to the period from the fall of dictatorship to the permanent constitution.
In this article I will deal with , why interim constitution is needed in Eritrea after the fall of the dictatorship.

      Why interim constitution is an issue for discussion at this time

The issue of constitution is the first issue that comes immediately after the fall of the dictatorship. The new democratic system will require an interim- constitution that establishes the desired framework of the transition from the fall of the dictatorship to the establishment of the permanent constitution.

Interim –constitution is supposed to govern during the transitional period – from the fall of dictatorship until the permanent constitution established.

It comes into effect when the regime falls and is handed over to a caretaker government composed the sovereignty of all political organizations. The interim –constitution will function as a basic law during the year of transition until an elected Assembly can draw up a permanent constitution inside the fixed time.

Constitutions are the supreme laws of the nation designed to manage the internal conflict of the Eritrean diversity. They must be arranged in a way that provides the people the opportunity to discuss on their fundamental rights and freedoms not granted by those who were in power.

The Eritrean people must discuss on them freely and democratically.

The 1997 constitution drafted but not implemented/defunct was under the control of dictatorship. It was not people’s constitution but a one mans constitution and later called a worthless paper and was thrown away by the self- appointed president. If it was of the people why didn’t they defend their constitution and fight against the dictatorship?

An interim constitution is the transitional basic law of the transitional caretaker government until the permanent constitution is drafted and processed. The reason why this issue is crucial and conflict issue is because there is no common understanding what kind of constitution unitary or federal constitution will be suitable to manage conflicts in Eritrea? Eritrea has never ruled under the law since independence and the road map of transition must focus also on the period from the fall of dictatorship up to the building of constitutional government guaranteeing security and safety for all its citizens.

Here , I would like to quote Gene Sharps arguments. Gene Sharp in his book, “ From Dictatorship to Democracy” says that,

“In the interest of preserving the democratic system an impending dictatorial trends and measures, the constitution should preferably be one that establishes a federal system with significant prerogatives reserved for the regional, state, and local levels of government”

In Eritrea there are no functioning constitutions either unitary or federal. Therefore the need for interim constitution is of crucial importance. Those who ignore interim arrangements their aim is to establish themselves as new dictators under the 1997 constitution that was drafted under dictatorship without no freedoms.

Our struggle is not only to remove the dictatorship but looking forward how to arrange the period of transition from dictatorship to permanent constitution.

The Key features of the interim constitution:

• Directive principles of the state/ State structure

• Citizenship

• Fundamental Rights & Duties

• Fundamental freedoms

• Interim- Legislatur

• Interim- Government

• Interim Court

• Interim security provisions

• Constitutional bodies

• Autonomous and local administrations

• Constituent Assembly

• Transitional Justice and reconciliation

• Other miscellaneous provisions

Transition from dictatorship to democracy is both fighting the dictatorship and at the same time laying the foundations for democratic transition.

For most of Eritreans in the opposition or those who support the dictatorship constitution means it is only the political elites who can design the constitution.

Why do we need interim legal framework from the fall of the dictatorship to permanent constitution must be one of our agendas and prepare for it while struggling to topple the tyranny.

Constitution Building and its role in conflict management

Constitutional arrangements provide us an important opportunity to manage our internal and external conflicts. When designing a legal framework citizens identify the fundamental values they believe in and the sort of institutions by which they want to be governed. This may involve inclusive and participatory national deliberation resulting in agreements that establish the country’s basic law.

An interim- constitution is helps us find the path towards healing, reconciliation, truth telling and justice towards building the permanent constitution all Eritreans breath on it.

 

By Selam Kidane

Notes from my visit to a refugee reception centre near Adwa

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats, Eritrean refugee camp, Tigray regional state in Northern EthiopiaThe number of refugees isn’t going down.

One of the reception centres, near Adwa, says they receive up to 50 refugees a day.

Their ages range from 5-50.

This is a high number, as during the rainy season numbers are expected to decrease, as the rivers are full.

The highest number of arrivals are still national service recruits; a significant proportion are unaccompanied children.

The smallest children are brought to the Mereb river by smugglers and then fellow travellers carry them across.

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats, Eritrean refugee camp, Tigray regional state in Northern Ethiopia

A rising number of children who are currently arriving have parents in Europe.

You can tell that they are different from the children in the border region from their appearance and clothing.

Local children simply cross the river from nearby villages because their friends and siblings had also done so.

The ones that are coming from central region cities and towns report paying up to $3,000 for the trip.

The deal is meant to cover the journey to Sudan, so they consider Ethiopia as a transit point.

There are still shootings at the border

In June two soldiers who were crossing together were shot at. One of them died. The other made it across to the Ethiopian side, wounded.

In Tsorona (also in June) a group of 20 people, including women and children, was shot at: 5 women were killed.

Last month two young boys were killed in a mine accident.

The other trend is that whole families are travelling together: parents with 5-6 children.

In addition to the national service the biggest push factor is a sense of hoplesness inside Eritrea.

Some of the refugees bring their life’s savings with them to start small businesses in the region. Others want to pursue further education.

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats, Eritrean refugee camp, Tigray regional state in Northern Ethiopia

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats refugee camp for Eritreans, Tigray regional state, Northern Ethiopia.

Hitsats is located approximately 45 kilometres from Shire Endasellasie, the seat of North-western Zone of Tigray, about 1,130 km north of Addis Ababa

Source=https://eritreahub.org/the-number-of-eritrean-refugees-fleeing-to-ethiopia-is-not-falling

Germany’s federal minister for economic cooperation and development, Gerd Müller, who is visiting several African countries, has said about 15,000 young Eritreans arrived in Germany this year, making in total some 75,000 Eritreans seeking asylum in Germany. Müller said he hoped Eritrea would change its system of years long military conscription. He also urged the country to move toward establishing democratic structures.

Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed says Eritreans are welcome home

Source: Deutsche Welle

Germany’s development minister has said fewer migrants from Eritrea are expected now the country has made peace with Ethiopia. In an interview, Eritrea’s top diplomat said those who have already left are free to return.

 
Migrants being rescued from a boat (picture alliance/AP Photo/E. Morenatti)Many Eritrean migrants take the perilous journey to Europe

In an interview with DW’s Adrian Kriesch on Thursday, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed, who held talks with Müller earlier this week, said any compatriots of his who had migrated could return home without difficulty.

Read also: German minister pushes for free trade deal ahead of Africa trip

DW: You had first talks with Germany’s development cooperation minister today. Has there been any outcome of the talks already? Are there any concrete things you discussed with the minister?

Osman Saleh Mohammed (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Lecocq)Osman Saleh Mohammed: ‘Eritreans who want to come back voluntarily, they can come’

Osman Saleh Mohammed:There have been no concrete things achieved, but there is now full understanding on both sides about the current situation.

When the German minister was talking earlier today, he mentioned that there was a reform process happening here and that Germany was ready to support it. What kind of reform was he talking about?

In this region, there’s a complete change, and this change is for peace. And peace is prevailing in Eritrea and Ethiopia, and in the region at large. We had very good peace talks with the Ethiopian government and at the same time with the Somali government and the South Sudanese government, and this will continue with other parts of the region.

Is there any particular project your government is interested in working on with other countries?

There’s no particular project we could do here, but we said that both Ethiopia and Eritrea have created a very conducive atmosphere for investment and trade. And because of this, we are going to use the resources of both countries for the development of our nations. For this reason, we are working toward an integrated economy of the two countries. For example, port maintenance and road maintenance are areas where we could invest. There are other areas like agriculture where we could have what we call “integrated community projects.” We also raised the issue of what we call “water projects’ infrastructure.” The German government might participate in supporting our agriculture, road construction and water and energy infrastructure.

Did the German minister indicate the amount of money Germany wants to spend?

Read also: Data Analysis: Aid money alone will not be enough to stop the causes of migration

Not yet. We haven’t spoken about the amount of money that will be earmarked for specific projects, but in general, we had very comprehensive ideas and an understanding of different issues related to projects.

Germany's minister of development, Gerd Müller (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen)Germany’s minister of development, Gerd Müller, is on an eight-day tour of Africa

In some African countries, there’s criticism that Germany demands a lot from partners compared to what it gives. Is that the impression you also have here?

That should not be the case. It will depend on the requirements that we have to fulfill. We should create our own projects and implement them, and if there are monitoring issues raised, then the German government can monitor any project, whatever it is. But you see, if we want to present a project, it has to be our own. External bodies should not impose it on us. The German government does not do that and should not do that. We have already talked about this issue, and we said all projects should be owned by the Eritrean government or the Ethiopian government, or by both of us.

The German minister said that Germany is only taking an interest because of the migration crisis, the migrants coming to Europe. Is that also a shared feeling?

Migrants are not coming to Germany at the same rate as previously. The numbers are very much on the decrease. And we are not the cause of the migration. We know that it is only because European countries have given political asylum to Eritreans that migrants are attracted. They can provide many reasons to be accepted by Germany and neighboring countries in the region.

Did the minister mention migration?

Yes, he did. But we do have a full understanding that Eritreans can come back voluntarily at any time.

Are they welcome home?

Yes. There is a comprehensive government policy [on that], but Eritreans who want to come back voluntarily, they can come. There’s no problem.

Source=https://eritreahub.org/german-minister-visiting-eritrea-calls-for-democracy-and-an-end-to-indefinite-conscription

 

0
1185
 

German Minister for Economic Cooperation & Development Gerd Müller
arrived in Asmara for an official visit , following his visit to Ethiopia.

German minister pushes for free trade deal ahead of Africa trip

Germany’s development minister Gerd Müller is promoting a “customs-free trade deal in Africa” ahead of his seven-nation Africa visit. Experts say the real issues are being ignored.

When it comes to the economic relationship between Germany and Africa, the issue of customs exemption is no longer an important topic. At least that’s what renowned development economist Robert Kappel from the University of Leipzig thinks. Instead, agricultural subsidies and trade barriers should be the main topic of discussion. However, Kappel blames Europe for pursuing neocolonialism in its monetary policy.

Yet, Müller avoided these issues before his trip to Africa this week. According to Kappel, he has failed to recognize that a trade imbalance has only increased in recent years — despite a customs exemption. “The minister is not well informed, therefore it’s right to criticize him,” Kappel told DW.

Africa’s negative trade balance

The trade relationship between Europe and Africa is increasingly turning out to put Africa at a disadvantage. While the imports from Europe in most African countries are on the rise, the total number of African exports to most European countries is decreasing.

This mostly has to do with the trend of prices, says Kappel. Oil and gas are the main exports from Africa to Germany and Europe, followed by agricultural products. “The prices of agricultural products and that of oil and gas have dropped in the past years,” says Kappel. “This is why the trade balance of African countries with Europe has become negative.”

According to the economic promotion company Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI), Germany’s foreign trade with sub-Saharan Africa amounted to €26.1 billion euros ($30.1billion) last year. Imports have also risen compared to the previous year. However, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for only 1.1 percent of total foreign trade in 2017, just as in the previous year.

A group of protesters in red t-shirts roll two large drums over tomatoes spread on the ground.

A new free trade agreement with Africa?

If the European Union (EU) and Germany’s federal government had their way, more European products would be found in the African market in the future. Europeans have already identified Africa as a huge outlet market. The European Commission’s statistical office, Eurostat, has calculated that by 2050 a quarter of the world’s population will be living in Africa. In Berlin and Brussels, Africa has been described as the “sleeping giant of the global economy.” And they are unwilling to leave this potential mass market to China and India. Asia’s trade with Africa has already spent years growing in importance.

For some time, the EU has been negotiating with African countries about possible new trade agreements, known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). They aim to allow the market to open up and offer an outlet for European products in Africa. Supporters are hoping for markets to open up on both sides and increase efficiency through competition and low prices for consumers.

But these discussions are causing displeasure in Africa. Critics of the EPAs fear that unrestricted trade with Europe will further weaken their economy. They are also concerned that high-quality European products might suppress the sale of African goods in their home countries. This would only serve to further increase the imbalance in trade between Europe and Africa.

Imbalanced food imports

The irregular trade balance also has to do with the massive export subsidies for European goods, says Kappel. But subsidy reduction is not an issue for the EU or the German government — despite it being the main point of criticism raised by most development economists.

Agricultural subsidies are not only an issue in Europe. According to the OECD, North America, Europe, Japan and China subsidize their agriculture with over 1 billion dollars (867 million euros) daily. But farmers and agricultural companies in Europe still pocket most state subsidies, says Kappel. “Their surpluses are made cheaper in African markets and compete with African producers, who end up destroyed.”

In the meantime, most African countries have become importers of food: 80 percent of food consumption in Africa is derived from food imports. Many experts agree that this issue needs to be urgently addressed. But Müller appears to be pretending that the problem does not exist.

“He proposed that African governments could subsidize their farmers as well, but no African country can compete with the EU’s subsidies,” says Kappel.

Hidden trade barriers

According to experts, another major obstacle African exporters face when it comes to accessing the European market is found in the health, safety and technical standards which are expected to be met by all African exporters.

Elmar Brok, a member of the European Parliament belonging to Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU) party, considers these standards to be “non-tariff trade barriers,” and a form of hidden protectionist measures that cannot be achieved through taxes and subsidies alone. “We actually have very high health and consumer protection standards, but we are of course not prepared to lower our health standards,” he told Germany’s national broadcaster ARD shortly before Müller’s trip to Africa.

According to Brok, Müller still believes it is necessary to help Africans meet the necessary requirements. Kappel agrees: “German-African chambers of commerce should be set up — those that deal with the marketing of African products in the European market — so that African companies get a chance to enter the European market, not only with their raw materials and agricultural products but also with their manufactured goods.” However, such a plan is unlikely to materialize any time soon, as Müller has yet to voice any proposals addressing the matter.

Independent monetary policies remain a taboo issue

According to Kappel, the lack of independent monetary policies is another taboo topic, targeted at the needs of African economies. Falsely overvalued African currencies, tied to the US dollar or the euro, raised the price of African export products and prevented foreign investments in Africa.

As a result, the CFA franc regions in West and Central Africa — a relic of the French colonial era — became an attempt to maintain a sense of colonialism through currency.

“By overvaluing the CFA franc, we are hindering industrialization in other African countries,” says Kappel. “Companies there could never be competitive in the global market.”

A group of people from sub-Saharan countries climb over a fence between Morocco and Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla

The issue of migration remains relevant

Beginning on Thursday, Müller’s one-week trip will take him to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Ghana. During talks with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, they will examine the reform partnerships of both countries, as well as new investment opportunities. Young Ghanaians will hopefully be presented with future prospects and the issue of migration should be dealt with through new job opportunities.

So, will Müller’s trip help spark important incentives for better trade relations with Africa? Kappel is skeptical. So many issues are yet to be discussed. But the development economist admits that “rhetorically, you can come through if you talk about fair trading conditions.

Source=http://raimoq.com/germany-minister-gerd-muller-arrives-eritrea/