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African Development Bank Meeting Opens with Appeal for Fairness in Trade - 2004-05-25

The African Development Bank has opened its annual meeting in Uganda with a call for greater market access for African goods in Western countries.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni opened the two-day meeting of the African Development Bank with an appeal to the West for fairness in trade with Africa.

He said Western countries should open their markets to Africa's finished goods and not just raw commodities.

"We need to demand access to the markets of the West for processed goods," he said. "If the people from the West are really our friends, then they must open that market now."

The chief of the Tunis-based bank, Omar Kabbag, told the meeting that African economic growth is on the upswing.

He said in 2003, the continent's economy grew by 3.7 percent, nearly a full percentage point more than the 2002 figure.

Mr. Kabbag said 18 African countries registered growth rates of more than five percent last year, compared with only 10 countries in 2002.

He said the commodities Africa exports had risen in value while demand also increased, and he said many governments are reforming their economies to attract investments and stimulate growth.

Leading the U.S. delegation at the meeting is John Taylor, under-secretary of the Treasury for international affairs.

Treasury department officials say he is emphasizing U.S. support for more grants instead of loans to finance projects by the bank's African Development Fund. They said his message to African officials is that grants can be more effective than loans in the economic development process.