Trade between the European Union (EU) and Africa is once again flourishing after years of stagnation and wrangling over the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), a thorny issue experts believe could sour the relations between the two parties, and drive Africa entirely at China’s ‘greedy’ hands.
Figures released recently by Eurostat shows that exports between the two worlds reached 90 billion euros in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 11 billion in the same period for 2009.
Imports stood at 96 billion euros against 79 billion, also compared to the same period. Imports include oil, gas and diamonds, while exports are made of petrol, medicine and cereals, Eurostat said.
Despite China’s ‘neo-colonisation’ of Africa, and the fast growing influence of Brazil and India on the natural resources-rich continent, the EU remains Africa’s top trading partner and aid donor. China’s investments in Africa are believed to have reached over US$200 billion this year, as the communist state wants more of Africa’s natural resources to feed its growing economy.
But the unending dispute over EPAs risks anihilating this on and off relationship, as African nations have made it clear that they will no longer accept the EU’s conditional aid, and that they were ready to abandon the EPAs negotiations if ‘coercion’ goes on.
Among the EU’s conditions include the eternal good governance issue, and the removal of import tariffs. The two worlds were due to meet on Monday and Tuesday in Tripoli, Libya, to iron out their differences.