World Trade Organization
WTO: 2009 News Items
6 April 2009

He said the presence of the four African presidents at the Aid for Trade Conference “demonstrates political commitment. It says to the world that you, the Presidents, know that problems will arise, but that you are ready to step in and act in this situation.”

The North-South Corridor Pilot Aid for Trade Conference was hosted by President Rupiah Banda of Zambia with the participation of: President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and chair of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); President Kgalema Mothlante of South Africa and chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC); and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and representing the East African Community (EAC).

The North-South Corridor comprises the Dar es Salaam Corridor, linking the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with the Copperbelt (the copper-mining area of Zambia), and the corridor linking the Copperbelt to the southern ports in South Africa. The North-South Corridor, together with its adjacent spurs, services eight countries — Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.

Director-General Lamy made the following comments during the High-Level Round-Table Discussion:

“This North-South Corridor Conference is a first occasion after the G20 meeting to show that the commitments made in London are translating into reality at a time of economic crisis. It demonstrates a resolve to avoid the temptation of short-term isolationist reflexes, and instead focus on investing in the future by ensuring that opening trade remains top of the political agenda.

“The North-South Corridor is a perfect example of Aid for Trade in action. As an organization, the WTO is about trying to level the playing field of trade rules. Making trade possible. But making trade possible is one thing; making it happen is quite another. We know that for numerous WTO members, making trade happen requires addressing a range of supply-side constraints. The North-South Corridor is a commendable example of how to put together all the elements necessary for trade to flow, creating the conditions necessary for the private sector to diversify from exporting a narrow range of raw material and add more value.

“Crucial to this effort is the impetus given to regional integration through the EAC-COMESA-SADC. This is essential for Africa given the low rate of intra-region trade. This places huge vulnerability on the continent and means that when crisis hits the major markets, Africa suffers more than others. Trading more amongst yourselves is an insurance policy in time of crisis.

“The North-South Corridor is a work in progress. Difficulties will be encountered as you bump into roadblocks and encounter bottlenecks on the way. The presence of four Heads of State here has a meaning. It demonstrates political commitment. It says to the world that you, the Presidents, know that problems will arise, but that you are ready to step in and act in this situation. ”