Botswana is uniquely positioned to benefit from the trade, tax and transparency initiatives the Group of Eight (G8) plans to unfurl for Africa and other regions this year, the British High Commissioner has said.
Last Friday, Nick Pyle told Mmegi Business that the United Kingdom, which holds the G8’s presidency this year, was focusing on using free trade, tighter tax initiatives and greater transparency to boost sustainable growth and prosperity in the global economy.
Member states of the G8 not only account for around half of the globe’s entire GDP, but also dominate economic policy in the developing world, which eagerly watches the forum’s annual summit.
For Botswana, G8 members are traditional markets for minerals such as diamonds. They are also key investment and policy partners for the country. Pyle said British Prime Minister, David Cameron, would use the June G8 Summit to focus the world’s wealthiest nations on using trade, tax and transparency to lift the global economy out of its slump.
“Botswana is in a unique position,” Pyle said in a wide-ranging interview.”It has very good platforms to move forward from political stability, sound institutions and high scores across all indices. In addition, its security and human resources are pleasing while the remarkable progress since independence is still continuing. The recent signing of the ICC treaty shows the country’s commitment to being a forward looking upper income country,” he said.
According to Cameron’s stated objectives, free-flowing trade across Africa can lift the continent out of poverty, while stronger emphasis on stamping out tax evasion and avoidance will lead to greater public revenues. Botswana, as part of SADC, has been leading negotiations with Europe for a new Economic Partnership Agreement. With a critical deadline looming this year, the G8 commitment to free trade could provide further room for SADC and the European Commission to reach agreement on a comprehensive new deal.
The commission sits in the summit and together with the World Trade Organisation, is part of key stakeholders in the drive to achieve the G8’s trade objectives.The G8’s tax initiatives will involve working with more countries to enable them to sign up to international standards and tackle abuses, thus helping governments collect taxes due to them.
On transparency, Cameron has noted that too many developing countries are held back by corruption. He said graft can be reinforced or even encouraged by poor business practice and a lack of transparency from those that trade with developing economies.
The British High Commissioner said that Cameron had already written to the African Union proposing a discussion between the G8 and Africa ahead of June’s summit. Cameron has appointed his deputy, Nick Clegg, to lead an engagement with African leaders, which will cut across foreign policy.
African Union chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been invited for the summit launch.”There’s a massive amount of bureaucracy around trade and we want to use our chairmanship of the G8 to unblock trade issues in Africa,” Pyle said. “Given the economic climate that we are facing at the moment, most countries agree that the way out is growth and how to achieve that.
We are careful to make sure that we work within the initiatives that the continent already has and to work in partnership.The G8’s efforts must compliment Africa’s efforts. For us, it must be sustainable – it cannot be a quick fix. One of our commitments is using the G8 to support developing countries.”
Cameron has said this year’s summit “will not be the kind where we simply whip out a cheque book at the 11th hour, pledge some money and call it a success”. The summit will be held in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.