The collapse of yesterdayâ€™s WTO trade talks in Geneva has resulted in mixed feelings for Africa, the poorest continent by GDP, as it faces an uncertain future of high tariffs, officials said on Tuesday.
World Trade Organization President Pascal Lamy suspended trade talks on Monday indefinitely as trade ministers from around the world failed to settle differences over farm aid.
As a result of high farm subsidies in developed countries, Africaâ€™s agricultural export sector still remains highly marginalized with limited market access. The talks reached no breakthrough in developing countries' demands for richer countries to slash farm subsidies and lower their agricultural tariffs.
One official felt Africa would have to look beyond its traditional trading partners as a result of the unfruitful talks.
It is time to have a quiet night and reflect on what has happened. But most importantly we need to realize that we should now look to Asian markets and China since the big boys [Western countries] are not ready, Erastus Mwencha, general secretary of Africa's major trade bloc, the 20-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, told Reuters yesterday.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) believes that responsibility for the collapse of the world trade talks on Monday can be largely attributed to the governments of the United States and European Union.
They put their selfish, short-term interests before their previous commitment to a â€˜developmental roundâ€™ of trade talks, the union federation said in a statement on Tuesday.
However, South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma remains positive and hoped talks would resume soon, according to a released statement
I don't think we can say this is the end of such negotiations, but this is just an initial reaction, we still have to discuss (this development), amongst our colleagues, especially those at (the department of) trade and industry, she said.