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Mbeki:  New Partnership for African Development is a Must for African Countries - 2002-06-07

A three-day meeting on an economic recovery plan for Africa has ended in South Africa's eastern port city of Durban.

South African President Thabo Mbeki says it would make no sense for any African country to choose to remain outside of the so-called New Partnership for African Development, or NEPAD. The goal of the plan, which was adopted by African leaders last October, is to attract foreign investment and economic aid to Africa, in exchange for good governance and democracy.

Addressing the closing session of the meeting, which was hosted by the World Economic Forum, Mr. Mbeki said African leaders would realize that, in future, NEPAD would be the vehicle for foreign investment to the continent.

African countries that want to benefit from NEPAD will have to abide by its principles and subject themselves to a peer review system and possible sanctions, if they flout those principles.

In his address to the Durban meeting, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Africans need to bargain as a group to win advantages for the continent, especially when seeking access to international markets.

African countries often find it difficult to sell their goods in developed countries because of restrictions and subsidies. South Africa, which has no agricultural subsidies and no restrictions on agricultural imports, must not only compete with the heavily subsidized agricultural sectors in the United States and the countries of the European Union, but is also subject to trade restrictions in those countries.

At the time of Zimbabwe's flawed presidential election in March, Western countries were hinting that, unless Mr. Mbeki and other African leaders strongly intervened in Zimbabwe, NEPAD would be dead on arrival. Mr. Mbeki said in Durban that view has now changed, and that developed nations now understand that an entire continent should not be penalized for the actions of one country.

Mr. Mbeki, who along with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is the author of NEPAD, travels to Rome next week, when he and other African leaders hope to put the finishing touches to the plan, before presenting it to the next G-8 summit. It is expected the plan will be formally adopted next month in Durban at the launch of the African Union, the successor to the Organization of African Unity.