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Ugandan Leader Calls on Industrial Countries to Open Markets to More African Goods - 2004-06-14

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Monday addressed a Washington forum on the results of the Group of Eight summit in Sea Island, Georgia. Mr. Museveni, who attended a portion of the summit, believes that market access in industrial countries for African goods is more important that foreign aid.

Mr. Museveni believes the pessimism about Africa is overdone and in most cases unwarranted. In his own country economic growth has exceeded four percent annually for several years. The long serving Ugandan leader says he has come to believe that market access for processed African goods is a top priority. At Sea Island, Mr. Museveni briefed the Russian, American and European leaders about the growth of Africa's private sector.

Mr. Museveni has high praise AGOA, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, that permits African goods to enter the U-S market without tariffs or quotas.

"Since it started just three years ago, this AGOA, exports from black Africa that are related to AGOA are worth $18 billion. Three hundred thousand jobs [in Africa are] coming from AGOA. So you can see this is the way to go," he said.

Mr. Museveni complained that most industrial countries still have high tariffs on processed goods from Africa. While cocoa and coffee, for example, can enter the Chinese or European markets with low duty, African chocolates or roasted coffee can not.

As to the results of the G8 summit, the fourth successive annual summit that Africans have attended, Mr. Museveni said the NEPAD initiative, the New Partnership for African Development, was positively received. He said the promise of NEPAD is that it was developed by Africans and allows economic and political reforms in one country to be reviewed by other African countries.

"It's much better [to have peer review], than to have outsiders come in and say, "you do that, you do this." That's not good. It brings a lot of backlash. Even if [the criticism is right] we say who is that one to tell us.

Under NEPAD the countries judged by Africa to be most successful in reform are to receive the largest infusions of assistance and foreign investment from the West. Ghana recently became the first country to offer its reforms for peer review.