Business leaders in Cape Verde are responding to their country's
ascension to the World Trade Organization. While business leaders
agree the measure should enhance the competitiveness of the island
nation, Brent Latham reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar some
in Cape Verde doubt the small country's businesses are ready to compete
on an international level.
Representatives of local businesses
in Cape Verde have accepted their country's membership in the World
Trade Organization with optimism and reservation.
The small nation became the 153rd member of the WTO Wednesday in Geneva.
most business people in Cape Verde agree WTO membership will bring
about changes to help businesses improve their competitiveness, some
expressed concern that businesses would be unable to survive without
national protection and preferences, which will be gradually eliminated
under WTO rules.
The economic dimensions of the country of
just 500,000 inhabitants make it difficult for Cape Verde's businesses
to compete on an international level, says the President of the
Barlavento Chamber of Commerce, Luis Vasconcelos.
says WTO membership will have some negative consequences for some
businesses in Cape Verde. He says there will be new, complicated
regulations they will need to follow.
Vasconcelos sees WTO membership as an opportunity for Cape Verde. With
the opening of larger potential markets, Cape Verde's industries will
have the opportunity to diversify, he says, giving Cape Verde an
advantage over countries in similar economic situations.
A spokesman for Cape Verde's stock exchange said it was too early to determine the effect on the country's largest companies.
says that Cape Verdean companies will now need to comply more with
international standards and practices, which should enhance
Mendoza says foreign companies will have an
easier time coming to Cape Verde than local companies going abroad. He
says only four companies, with a total capitalization of about
$150,000, have been listed on the stock exchange. Mendoza says WTO
membership is likely to help increase that number.
Institute of Agrarian Investigation and Development program manager
Carla Tavares said WTO membership is not likely to affect the country's
agricultural sector since Cape Verde is a net importer of food.
Tavares says the country has a lot of work to do before it will be ready to export agricultural products.
Verde, Africa's westernmost nation, is composed of 10 main islands
about 500 kilometers off the coast of Senegal. The economy depends
principally on tourism.
Last year, Cape Verde became only the
second country, following Botswana in 1994, to be considered
sufficiently developed for removal from the United Nation's list of
least developed countries.