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Africa needs fair participation in global trade, economic integration – Emmanuel

Excitement as Udom inaugurates roads, others in Akwa Ibom

Despite accounting for 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves, Africa has not enjoyed fair trade with the rest of the world, while the few exchanges the continent has had with its peers have been very far from the concept of trade for peace.

The above was top among some concerns raised by Udom Emmanuel, governor, of Akwa Ibom State, in his keynote speech at the ongoing Seventh Annual London Political Summit and Awards, which is being held in the House of Parliament, Westminster, London, from October 12-14, 2022.

Speaking further at the summit, with the theme: ‘Trade for peace: The politics of democratic peace through fair trade,’ the governor, who was excited to address the world, decried that Africa has long been cut off from the rest of the world and from global trade, while the rest of the world collaborated and networked to advance their national or geo-political and social interests.

But he foresees a change in the negative narrative, starting with his invitation to speak at the summit, which he attributed to the realisation by the organisers that any summit on trade without African representation is like having a symphony orchestra without violins.

The change, according to him, will move Africa’s global trade exchange from being based on subjugation, cancel culture and of unfair practices.

To ensure peace through global trade, Governor Udom Emmanuel called on the rest of the world to reengage Africa on fair treatment and balance trade, considering the many woes of slave trade, which ravaged the continent in the past.

“Trade in humans decimated Africa and led to conflicts and crises between communities and tribes. So, Africa is not only a case study in unfair trade, Africa is a victim of unfair trade. So, to discuss fair trade, you need a Continent which has experienced unfair trade to help you strike a balance,” the governor noted in his speech.

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Moreover, he noted that the theme of the summit added deserved emphasis on the need for trade to be fair in order for there to be peace, while giving credence to Adam Smith’s quote, “every man lives by exchanging,” and noting that it is as true for individuals as it is for nations.

But as much as economists and political scientists agree that trade among nations leads to peace, governor Udom Emmanuel insisted that there are still economic barriers that threaten equality of trade conditions and the efforts of the G7 and the World Trade Organisation Accessions Group, which launched the Trade for Peace Programme at the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2017.

For the goals of the Trade for Peace Programme to be achieved, the Akwa Ibom State governor noted that there should concerted efforts at boosting political engagements and partnerships, outreach and public dialogue, while countries abide by the dictates of fair trade and equality of conditions for all participants including; LDC (Least Developing Countries) and FCS (Fragile and Conflict-Affected states).

Localising the Trade for Peace Programme, the governor said that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which President Muhammadu Buhari signed at the African Union (AU) summit in Niamey, Niger in 2019, is expected to boost trade and peace on the continent.

Meanwhile, the governor used the summit platform to highlight the gains of his government, noting that his state has become investor haven in a short period of time.

“Apart from Lagos State, which is the commercial nerve-centre of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State, under my watch, has had the highest level of Foreign Direct Investments in Nigeria,” he said.

He attributed the feat to the efforts of the Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investments, headed by Gabriel Ukpe, a renowned chartered accountant and a former senior partner and risk quality leader at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC).

“This fall-out of that strategic engagement, has led to the establishment of such commercially viable industries as the Jubilee Syringes Manufacturing company which, today, is the largest of such company in Nigeria and indeed Africa, providing the essential need to our healthcare delivery services, the Kings Flour Mill which is the most automated and the largest Flour Mill in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria”, Governor Udom Emmanuel said.

Other feats from the growing FDI include; a Virgin Coconut Refinery, the establishment of Ibom Air, the best road network of any sub national in the country, amid projects such as Ibom Deep Seaport, $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant, a joint project with Moroccan investors in Ikot Abasi, among other investments.

“To put everything in a nutshell, we have set the State on an irreversible course of industrialisation. I extend our hand of fellowship to you to come and invest in the most peaceful and welcoming state in Nigeria,” he said.

In his conclusion, the governor urged nations to be more concerned with fair trade practices than with unfair trade profits to ensure global peace.

The ongoing summit is being organised by Caterandmerger Centre For Leadership & Good Governance, House of Parliament Westminster, and Mandeville Hotel London.