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Говорот на претседателот Баросо: Новите Африка




ФРАНЦИЈА ЕВРОПСКИ ПАРЛАМЕНТBarroso’s speech of 31 March, ahead of the EU-Africa summit this week.

Дами и господа,

“It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to Brussels for the 5th European Union – Africa Business Forum. This forum is an indispensable complement to the European Union – Africa Summit that starts the day after tomorrow, showing that both governments and the private sector, both in Europe and in Africa, are working hand in hand to strengthen our special and promising relationship. There is a great sense of optimism in and around Africa these days. And rightly so. Africa has over the last decade become one the fastest growing regions in the world, with 8 out of 10 fastest growing economies being African in 2012 and with a €1.6 trillion economy growing at about 6%.

“Yet there are also undeniably great challenges facing the continent, some of them facing Europe as well. Sustainable and inclusive growth is a vital concern for both our continents and we are both aiming at generating jobs, in particular for the younger generations, as set out in the African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’ and our own Europe 2020 strategy. I believe that by bringing public and private actors together around a common vision, we can overcome those challenges and make our dreams and endeavours come true, while exploring the vast potential of our partnership.

“When McKinsey Global Institute, in a study called Africa at Work, summed up Africa’s impressive economic potential and prospects, it started by noting that the continent “is poised to reap a demographic dividend”. More than half of Africa’s population is aged under 25, and in 2050 Africa’s population is set to double reaching 2 billion people. In this decade, Africa will add a further 122 million people to its workforce. These young men and women, increasingly well-educated with almost half of all citizens enjoying secondary or tertiary education by 2020, will be for Africa a strength and a great opportunity. They will form the basis of consumer-led growth, powered more than ever by Africa’s internal dynamics.

“These are not just abstract figures or simple demographic trends but also real-life business opportunities: to take an example, there are now more than 1 billion mobile subscriptions throughout the region. It is expected Africa’s rise will create an extra 128 million consumer households by 2020. In short: the potential is huge.

“It is the private sector that will have to reap it. Its contribution to inclusive and sustainable growth is vital. It provides some 90 percent of jobs in developing countries. It is an essential partner in the fight against poverty, and it takes up this role with relish. Businesses are emerging as ever more active players in the development field, both as a source of finance and as partners for governments, NGOs and donors. And together, governments, societies, international donors and businesses are already forging a new development partnership on the ground.


“The European Commission is eager to support that new partnership. A stronger emphasis on public-private partnerships and an even stronger focus of our own development tools on the drivers of growth are central tenets of our EU development strategy, the “Agenda for Change”, With our upcoming initiative on “Strengthening the Role of the Private Sector in Achieving Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Countries”, we will further deepen this engagement. We believe in the potential of your young and growing continent, with a vibrant and talented private sector, just like you do. The question is then: how to make the most of these talents?

“One way is to look for further integration. Just as Europe has benefited enormously from integrating its single market, so Africa is now moving forward with regional and intra-continental trade. That is critical: in the European Union, 72% of all trade is within Europe; in Africa it is currently only about 12%. Another way is to look beyond borders. In recent years, African countries are actively strengthening their partnerships across the globe and that is certainly a good thing. And we want our partnership to be one of the pillars of Africa’s relationship with the rest of the world. Our trade relation with Africa is already very strong. Europe is open for business from and with Africa – contrary to what some critics seem to think. About one third of Africa’s trade already takes place with the European Union – making the EU the largest overseas market for African goods – and the trade balance is increasingly in Africa’s favour. Flows have increased by nearly 45% between 2007 and 2012.

“Through the Economic Partnership Agreements, we can tighten these bonds even further. EPAs are precisely the kind of partnership that promotes a business-friendly environment in Africa. Beyond tariffs, they contribute to wider reforms to strengthen the rule of law and to ensure a stable, predictable and transparent economic climate, which helps African countries attract much needed investment. The recently concluded negotiations with West Africa are an important breakthrough that I would like to welcome. This EPA will generate growth and investment for all countries in the region. The process has been encouraging, business opportunities are being created on both sides, and it pushes forward integration efforts within regions.

“The importance, I believe, goes even beyond the purely economic effects. Through the African Union and regional organizations, African countries are coming together to tackle common challenges and work towards common goals. These are very promising developments, making Africa a more coherent continent, more competitive and stronger towards the outside world. The European Union is fully committed to Africa’s integration in world trade. To support this very tangibly, we remain the world’s largest Aid for Trade donor by a wide margin – around 43% of which goes to Africa [in 2012].

“But looking beyond borders is not enough for inclusive and sustainable growth. Trade alone won’t do the trick. It also requires creating a strong support framework for businesses, harmonizing regulations to meet the highest standards, assisting SMEs – who generate by far most of the trade and jobs -, in finding funds and strengthening their talents, helping companies and citizens find their role in the changing global context. Africa is doing all this with sometimes remarkable results and the 2014 Doing Business Report, for instance, concludes that in fact some of the most economic reform-minded governments are to be found in Africa.

“Africa can rely upon the European Union to support this huge transformation process. Africa remains by far the first beneficiary of European public development aid, which amounts to 40% of the total. Approximately €20 billion per year was provided to Africa by the European Union and its member states collectively over the period 2007-2013. Over the coming seven years, programs will focus even more on the countries most in need, and more than €25bn of European Union grants will go to Africa. The European Commission has pushed hard that these levels remain intact until 2020, which was not self-evident in times of crisis. But we succeeded – ultimately because this is a matter of strategic intelligence.

“Africa today can rely on strengths that may be even more important than demographics and natural resources. At the World Economic Forum meeting earlier this year, President John Mahama of Ghana, who will be attending the Forum tomorrow, said: ‘We are enjoying in Africa a democracy dividend.’ I believe this is increasingly true all across Africa: a serious focus on stability and good governance – even in a sometimes difficult context – leading to a renewed and realistic optimism among investors, large and small. The private sector has indeed a large role to play and that is what binds this Business Forum with the European Union – Africa Summit later this week. I welcome in advance the recommendations of this Forum, which will be jointly submitted to it by Business Africa and Business Europe the day after tomorrow (2 April).

“Europe believes in Africa. We know the potential within Africa and are eager to unlock it.

“Europe believes in Africa’s private sector. We see what results it achieves today and we know what it could achieve in the future.

“We believe that, with the right approach, any challenge can be overcome. And I look forward to working with you on this. Thank you very much.”

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