A Ugandan trade expert has differed from the food security report that calls on Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) to open up trade and reduce on high tariffs as a strategy to improve food insecurity.
The report was launched at the Doha summit in Qatar on Monday during the summit by the International Trade Centre which is a joint agency with World Trade Organization and UN’s.
In the report, it emphasizes that in order to build resilience to food trade shocks, improving food market access for food imports by LDC’s must be given a preference.
“In the midst of food crises or price spikes, LDC’s can mitigate the impact on food availability and affordability by facilitating imports and re-evaluating remaining tariffs,” Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the ITC director noted.
Joyce Megolonyo in Gulu main market selling cereals. SEATINI and Trademark Africa advocated for empowerment of such entrepreneurs to boost food security.
However, Jane S Nalunga the Executive Director of the Southern and East Africa Trade information and negotiations Institute (SEATINI) said in the context of LDC’s trade is necessary in relation to importing machinery like tractors to aid them to grow their own food.
Nalunga told New Vision in Doha that if LDC’s are importing value-added products then that is not viable as it’s likely to paralyze the small-scale producers
The SEATINI boss who was in Doha to deliberate on enhancing the participation of LDC’s in International trade and regional integration.
“If we are to strengthen the local producers, there is a need to help them add value to their products to remain relevant in the market. That is the only way out people can get out of poverty by creating jobs but also remain locally to impact on the community,” she noted.
She added that the existing challenges like the war in Ukraine that have created food insecurity in Uganda and other LDC’s, should be a learning point to improve.
“Countries need to go back home, sit and change in terms of policy framework and budget and tap into the existing challenges rather than advocating for food imports,” she explained.
East Africa is self-sustaining in food
David Beer, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TradeMark Africa said the problem is, the LDC trade is not where it could be today especially in Africa both in terms of intra continental and exports trade to the rest of the world.
Speaking during the summit during the plenary, Beer added acknowledged that while the global trade policy is being hampered by high barriers to trade, specifically the time and trading across borders coupled with companies’ lack of capacity to overcome the hurdles, it makes exporters in the LDC’s less competitive with those of other countries.
The CEO however said that despite the existing challenges, the good news is that they can all be solved through models that have so far been found to work well in terms of regional reintegration.
With TradeMark working on this for over a decade, there’s been serious progress that has so far been seen in reducing the cost of transporting a container from Mombasa to Kampala by a half.
To achieve this however, it requires a combination of factors that include the political will, finance and technical support.
“Many of the trade barriers seen in Africa are not politically driven but they are due to irregular or no implementation of instruments and that is why as Trade Mark they believe it is not just helping governments come out with good policies but also help in their implementation,” he noted.
He observed that The East African drought has become a multi-year challenge and climate change which has made extreme weather a challenge and worse yet the region is self-sufficient in food production.
If we are to have an impact on poverty, we must make trade systems work for vulnerable groups. When COVID-19 hit, it was those in informal trade who lost their livelihood as traffic flow across borders was stopped overnight,” the CEO told the summit.
UN wants commitment in funding
During the summit, The UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres told developed countries to implement their commitment of allocating 0.15 – 0.20 per cent of their Gross National Income for Official Development Assistance.
“No more excuses,” Guterres said during the opening session of the Fifth Least Developed Countries (LDC) conference which is taking place from Doha in Qatar.
He however said, the September’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit slated to be held in New York will be the centerpiece moment to demonstrate a global commitment for action.
“We have put forward an SDG Stimulus to gather the world around the need to provide at least 500 billion US dollars a year to developing countries,” he added.
The UN boss also emphasized the need to expand international efforts to fight tax evasion, money laundering and the illicit financial flows that drain domestic resources mainly from LDC’s.
The UN summit of LDC’s that concluded on Friday in Doha Qatar was aimed at bringing 46 heads of states together, the civil society, private sector and other agencies to focus on how to achieve the 2030 agenda.
The 2030 agenda is a global path for the UN adopted by the general assembly to achieve 17 Sustainable Millennium Development Goals (SDG’s).
Among these goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, promoting health and wellbeing, ensuring quality education, achieving gender equality, reducing inequality, protecting the environment, building resilient infrastructure among others.
The Doha Program of Action (DPoA) adopted by leaders from developed countries early this year, which was the cornerstone for the summit’s discussion, is the through which the 2030 agenda will be achieved.
The DPoA which runs for 10 years spells out six strategies that include improving food security. Others include; leveraging the power of science, technology, and innovation to fight against multidimensional vulnerabilities among others.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.