Africa and Europe to strengthen ties and expand trade

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President Sata arrives at the EU-Africa Heads of State Summit in Brussels , Belgium on 02-04-2014. Picture by Eddie Mwanaleza. — in Belgium..
President Sata arrives at the EU-Africa Heads of State Summit in Brussels , Belgium on 02-04-2014. Picture by Eddie Mwanaleza. — in Belgium..

THE fourth European Union (EU)-Africa Summit opened here in Brussels yesterday with European Commission, President Jose Manuel Barroso emphasising the need for Africa and Europe to strengthen ties and expand trade.
President Michael Sata and his delegation were in attendance during the official opening at Justus Lipsius building at the EU’s headquarters.
Mr Barroso said the fact that the summit had attracted 54 African and 28 EU countries was evidence that the vision of the world was one of cooperation and not competition.
Mr Barroso said the cooperation between Africa and Europe would act as a bridge and not a barrier.
“Our partnership with Africa is a partnership based on mutual respect, a partnership of equals, a partnership that is more relevant than ever,” he said.
He said history showed that countries prospered when they expanded their trade opportunities and exchanged ideas.
“Our partnership with Africa like any other partner is like a bridge and not a barrier, “he said.
Mr Barroso noted that for Africa to benefit from its great potential, responsible leadership was fundamental.
Mr Barroso said there were risks that existed and that the challenges of poverty and sustainable inclusive growth should be addressed.
“There is need to promote democracy, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights,” he said.
African Union (AU) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her opening remarks said Africa’s democracy was growing and most countries had witnessed democratic elections.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma said Africa, however, needed to step up its efforts in ensuring that skills were imparted, especially among women and youths.
She said the EU should work with African countries to push forward the industrialisation drive.
She said the EU could assist Africa attain the status of a free trade area and that ultimately Europe would benefit from the move as it would trade with Africa as a bloc.
The summit has brought together African and EU Heads of State, as well as the leaders of EU and African Union (AU) institutions under the theme ‘‘Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace.’’
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged African countries to speed up their efforts in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mr Ban said empowerment of women, gender equality, food security, climate change and protection of human rights were some of the matters that required urgent attention.
Earlier in the day, President Sata on the sidelines of the summit, held a closed-door meeting with Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk at Justus Lipsius Building.
The meeting between Mr Sata and Mr Tusk, which lasted for 30 minutes, was also attended by Foreign Affairs Minister, Harry Kalaba, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Bob Sichinga and Zambia’s Ambassador to the EU and Belgium, Grace Kabwe .
Meanwhile, Mr Kalaba has assured Zambians in the Diaspora that the Government will deliver a Constitution which encompasses the wishes of the people.
At the resident of Ms Kabwe, Mr Kalaba, however, said Government would not be pushed by some political parties whose interests were narrow in the Constitution-making process.
Mr Sichinga also urged Zambians in the Diaspora to invest back home and contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mr Sichinga said Government had put in place policies which supported private investments and that Zambians in the Diaspora should participate in the running of the economy.
And representative of Zambians living in Belgium, Anthony Chibuye said Zambians living in Belgium were happy with the major projects being undertaken by the Government such as the Link Zambia 8000 road project, construction of stadiums, electricity dams and the rehabilitation of the Zambia Railways facilities.
Mr Chibuye said the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) was also a good move but cautioned against going the way of the old INDECO.

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