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The Guardian: Trade and investment for Africa

The Guardian: Trade and investment for Africa

“Monbiot’s attack on the planned investment climate facility and the multinational companies behind it contrasts with a report a few pages earlier on the plans of two multinationals to support local investment (Shell and M&S plan trade aid for Africa).”

Friday July 8, 2005

There are 37 countries eligible for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), and the rules of origin that George Monbiot cites for clothing exist only for countries not eligible for the special apparel rule (Africa’s new best friends, July 5). Most Agoa-eligible countries are eligible for this rule.

For these countries, clothing manufactured in two or more countries enjoys preferential access to the US market until 2007. Fabric used to make T-shirts in Kenya can come from Bangladesh, for example, and enter the US duty-free under Agoa. Agoa trade provided 34% of Lesotho’s GDP in 2003, and $240m of Kenya’s exports since 2000.

In contrast, strict rules prevent countries taking up duty-and quota-free access to the EU. It would be more useful for Mr Monbiot to point out ways in which Agoa reduces poverty to prompt the US to deliver more – and highlight how the EU could help poverty reduction.

Emily Bosch

London

Monbiot’s attack on the planned investment climate facility and the multinational companies behind it contrasts with a report a few pages earlier on the plans of two multinationals to support local investment (Shell and M&S plan trade aid for Africa). A good investment climate will benefit all firms, including local ones. What is required now is a detailed implementation plan on how the ICF can benefit Africa’s private sector, including firms that have the greatest effect on development, some of whom have too little power, not too much, to improve investment conditions.

Dr Dirk Willem te Velde

Overseas Development Institute

Monbiot is right to challenge a simplistic approach to Africa’s problems, and the motives of politicians tagging on to the Make Poverty History campaign. But to associate all multinationals with “forced labour, evictions, murder, under-costing of resources, tax evasion and collusion with dictators” is not useful. I worked with Anglo American and DeBeers in southern Africa between 1992 and 2002 and always found them to be model corporate citizens, by any standards.

Martin Udwin

Cardiff University

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,1523630,00.html

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