On 1st December, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Founder and President and EU-ACP Trade expert, presented at the first Konrad-Arednauer Stfitung (KAS) and the EU-Asia Centre’s Roundtable on “The EU and China in Africa – Prospects for Cooperation” in Brussels.
Yentyl’s intervention focused on three issues. First, the shifting paradigms from EU-ACP focused policy, to a more pan-African approach as defined in the EU’s New Consensus for Development. She reminded the audience that Africa is not a country, but an immense continent that is the landmass of China, the USA, India, Mexico, Japan and Western Europe put together. She also recalled this historic interest for the EU in Africa by quoting Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of the EU project in his 9th May 1950 Schuman Declaration in Paris: “Europe, with new means at her disposal, will be able to pursue the realisation of one of her essential tasks: the development of the African Continent”. On this point, Yentyl summarised that “China does not have the legacy of colonialism or even the new legacy of negotiating the EPAs.”
Secondly, Yentyl highlighted that even where African countries could have benefited from duty-free and quota-free market access to spur export diversification, African countries (and ACP alike) did not benefit due to the preferential arrangement in place internally in Europe with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This is emblematic of the development-underdevelopment dialectic that fundamentally taints EU-Africa relations. Thirdly, China offers a new partnership to African countries. As the Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo explains in her book, ‘Winner takes all: China’s race for resources and what it means for the world’ there is a difference between the economic and political development offered by China and ‘the West’ respectively.
Yentyl concluded with a quote from Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Commonwealth Secretary-General “The challenge that faces developing countries is not merely the challenge of economic development, but the fact that in failure lies the danger of returning to a new dependency – a new kind of colonialism – deriving from economic weakness.” (2014). Any future cooperation should therefore promote economic development and mitigate any possible economic weakness.
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