African Affairs · Middle Eastern Affairs · Near East South Asian (NESA) Affairs

African Leaders Conference: Doha Reconsidered

With the President meeting with African leaders this week I thought it would good to write once again(Doha Development Agenda: The Time is Now) why the Doha round is exceptionally important to the region and how that can be incorporated into the wider world. The Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is a multilateral trade regime which once implemented will free many developing nations from tariff ridden import-export policies and instead replace them with a free trade regime that will allow for countries as diverse as Kenya, Qatar, and Malaysia to trade with one another regardless of former barriers to trade which impeded prosperity.

The Doha agreement is of special importance to Africa as many countries rely on tariffs as a main source of revenue for the state. However with Doha implemented these states would no longer receive monies from tariffs but instead would derive most of their state revenue from taxable commerce from the businesses which would be created by freeing up trade. The Blair Commission on Africa has indicated through their own research that “Raising Africa’s share of world trade from 2% to 3% would provide export revenues of $70 billion, nearly three times the amount that sub-Saharan Africa receives from global aid donors.” This is not a small amount of revenue generated for these countries, and with Africa set to be the bread basket of the world, this trade deal figures prominently for Africa.

To see the possible success for Africa one need look no further than the United States. In the 1930’s the Republican Party was one made up mostly of isolationist. However once high tariff laws like Smoot-Hawley were repealed the United States began to come out of the depression and after World War 2 the United States stood alone as far and away the richest most powerful country on the face of the Earth. It’s no wonder then that the World Trade Organization (WTO) labels the loosening of free trade policies as one of the number one factors for how well a country will grow in the future. No wonder the Bush administration tried though to no avail to get DDA ratified on several occasions.

But it’s not too late with the world’s eyes on Washington D.C. this week as over fifty African leaders converge on the city it will be important to see just how committed the Administration is to creating new opportunities on the continent and fostering growth for the near and long term.

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