|The Courier N° 128 July - August 1991 - Dossier : Human Rights- Democracy-Development Country Reports: Benin, Western Samoa (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)|
by Jenny BEMBELLO
Landerf~erichte, the statistical monographs in the German Statistical Offices foreign series, cover something like 150 countries at the rate of 30 per year, clearly setting out recent figures from all available national and international sources and providing concise comments, graphs and subject maps in addition.
Lay-out and content are designed to show the State structure, government, geography and population of the country in question and, most important, to give a close analysis of the different sectors of the economy. So there are details of agriculture, industry (mining and energy included) and external trade, plus more specific economic information on such things as employment, price and wage trends and finance as well. Figures on the national economy and the balance of payments highlight general economic trends and social aspects are covered in special chapters on health and education.
Since relations between the ACP and EEC countries are intensifying and improving all the time - the Lomonventions have something to do with this - but that the general public in the EEC is ill-informed about it, the European Community Statistical Office in Luxembourg (Eurostat) and the Federal German Statistical Office in Wiesbaden (StBA) signed a statistical agreement, in October 1988, whereby Eurostat undertook to bring out French and English versions (with one or two amendments) of the original German reports on the ACP countries. Four of the 22 chapters containing details of bilateral and international aspects are in fact changed to suit the international readership, with the analyses (of external trade, official development assistance, external investments and debt) seen from a Community rather than a bilateral angle.
Zimbabwe was the test country selected to start the Community series, a choice dictated by the importance the EEC attaches to this country and its potential role in the Southern African development process and by Zimbabwes own drive to improve its socio-economic performance with a structural adjustment programme. The Zimbabwe report was published in June 1990 and presented to the press in Harare in July.
With the signing of LomV (due to be ratified in 1991), Eurostat and the StBA naturally went for Togo for the first regular report in the Community series which is to involve two 120-page issues every year.
Togo found development difficult in the 1970s and early 1980s, when unfavourable international economic conditions and breakneck industrialisation triggered a profound structural crisis in the nations economy. Things began to pick up gradually in the mid-1980s, although this country, like many others in Africa, is the victim of recurrent variations in the price of its main export products (phosphates, coffee, cocoa and cotton) on the international market. But its importance as a European Community trading partner and a goods transit point for the neighbouring countries is increasing.
A functional banking organisation, a highly developed transport infrastructure and a liberal trading system presage further economic improvements, particularly in agriculture, where about 70% of the population earn their living.
The structural adjustment programme in operation since 1983 has brought vast reforms in its wake and been of particular importance in recent economic developments, while the privatisation of unprofitable public and semi-public firms, a general farm price reform, a new investment law and the setting up of a free trade zone have created the conditions for lasting economic growth. All this could make Togo more attractive as both an investment proposition and a trading partner for the Community countries.
As well as setting out general economic and socio-economic trends, the report gives details of the volume and destination of trade flows and of economic cooperation between the European Community and Togo.
The main sectors covered - external trade, the external debt, foreign investments and official development assistance - will be dealt with in chapters focusing on relations with the European Community. The German Development Institute (DIE, Berlin) was asked to produce these four chapters and the general economic table and the chapters on sectoral economic trends, employment, trends in prices and wages and the social situation are the work of the foreign statistics department at the Federal Statistical Office in Berlin.
The Togo 1991 report is not just a reliable source of information for investors in the European Community and elsewhere. It is a work of reference for students looking for sound resource material and tourists interested in having a better idea of the importance and specific nature of the country they are visiting.
The next reports will be on Namibia and Cameroon.