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EU Envoy Cautions EAC States on Protectionist Policies

The Head of European Union Delegation in Uganda Kristian Schmidt

As the European Union (EU) marks 60 years of its existence, health the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda Kristian Schmidt has advised member states within the East African community against retracting from the regional cooperation which according to him is significant in driving international trade.

In the wake of Britain’s departure (Brexit) from the EU along with Donald Trump’s administration in the U.S, no rx there’s increasing protectionist sentiments in some developed and emerging economies.

In East Africa, pilule individual states including Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are already pursuing trade policies geared towards promoting locally manufactured products against foreign ones. In Uganda, local traders have continuously protested the involvement of foreigners in petty trade which they claim are suffocating local businesses.

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Ambassador Schmidt in a press interview on Friday attributed the reduction of poverty levels in Asia and man African economies to the emergence of single markets due to globalization.

“Of course some will focus on the low side of it – factories closing down. But important to note is that most job opportunities have been created by foreign direct investments,” he said.

“It’s very easy for populist politicians to play on people’s fears and telling them that the solution lies in closing borders and kicking out foreign investors but that’s not true. Only a few countries have done that and succeeded economically.”

Schmidt argues that in addition to liberalizing their economies, low developed countries like Uganda must provide social protection for the unemployed and those on lower end of the scale.

“I wouldn’t recommend to East African countries to give up on regional integration because a country like Uganda has everything to gain from its neighboring markets especially since it’s landlocked.”

He maintains that Brexit will have no significant effect on European Union’s ties with Uganda and the entire Africa. With its 27 remaining member states, Schmidt says that the EU still remains the biggest single market and source of foreign direct investment across the globe.

Beyond its cooperation EU, some analysts have argued that Africa in fact stands a better ground to strike new trade deals with UK that could see the exports from the continent soar. This is because as part of the EU, Britain lacked the flexibility to negotiate trade agreements in favor of Africa since most of the decisions like customs duty were made in Brussels.

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