|The Courier N° 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)|
|Mali: (R)evolution in the rural world|
Africa is not swimming against the tide says Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister NGolo Traor
Dr NGolo TraorMalis Foreign Minister, is also in charge of International Cooperation and therefore National Authorising Officer as well. A Courier interview with him cavered a wide range of topics and some of what he had to say on specific, up - to - the - minute issues, is printed here.
· On poor regional trade
- Mali does a lot of trade with its neighbours, with CdIvoire, Senegal and so on, and it is trying to see that this sort of thing becomes the rule throughout the sub - region. Obviously there is a lot more trading between North and South now because of imported capital goods and our exported raw materials, but the interests of the countries of Africa would be served, maybe not by a reversal of the present trends, but by further development of the trade between the various nations. And the possibilities are enormous. Mali is a fundamentally agricultural country with vast animal production potential, and places like CdIvoire and Ghana and Nigeria are traditionally short of such things, so there is a huge and fruitful opening here for trade between coastal countries like them and countries like us and Burkina Faso and Niger. The processing industries growing up here and there would also be more profitable propositions if they were harmonised so they could all aim for the same big market. The work could be judiciously shared out among the different units so that every country gained something from having the various factories working for the same big market in the CEAO and ECOWAS.
· On the sometimes controversial role of the IMF and the World Bank
- I have to say that, when Mali asks the Bretton Woods institutions for their help, it has already diagnosed the situation itself - I am harking back here to 1978 - 79, when we had to take stock of the critical situation of our state companies and firms, which accounted for 70 % of the national economy. Obviously, the Bretton Woods institutions have their own rules. We knew exactly what they were. We analysed them and we analysed our programme and we assessed our ability to accept some features and reject others and it is in the light of this that we decided on the economic recovery and structural adjustment plan with the help of the IMF, the World Bank and the other partners. Obviously programmes of this sort are extremely difficult from the point of view of their social effects and of the technical and professional skills you need to keep proper control of all the essential workings of the economy and go for growth when there is no guarantee that the international economic situation is such that you can actually get the results your efforts should bring. Mali knows what it is doing in having this programme and in acting to run it to the countrys best advantage.
· On the Single Market of 1992
- I dont know whether Europe will be a closed fortress or whether it will still be open to cooperation with Africa as it has been in the past, but this is an extremely important issue and must be monitored carefully. It is linked to the way Europe perceives its interests in a reorganising world and, obviously, the present keenness on Eastern Europe is an historical fact which Europes partners are forced to cater for. But I dont see any call for alarm. I think its perfectly natural for Europe to want to organise itself inside its boundaries, with all the peoples of Europe, and try and get the problems of the technical, human, social and cultural sides of development under control. But I am sure that Africa, which is a privileged partner of Europe in a number of fields, will find a mutually advantageous way of cooperating with it. I think the problem has to be seen in terms of real, identified interests which are embodied in a real policy of cooperation. I think that Europe is showing signs of opening up. And at all events, there is no point in Africa shutting its doors - unless it has to for reasons beyond its control.
· On contagious democracy from the East
- The events in the East are not just a spontaneous phenomenon, in spite of the fact that they occurred at a virtually unheard - of speed, and the changes were only possible because of a certain maturing of the peoples of Eastern Europe meeting an intense need for freedom, democracy and the satisfaction of various social and cultural needs. I dont think it will be spontaneous generation in Africa either. There will be a maturing of the peoples of the continent and, whenever the conditions are right, I think the African countries will find the proper response, in their midst, to this need for freedom and democracy and for access to social and cultural goods through the conquest of industrial technology. So I dont think that Africa is swimming against the tide.
· On structural adjustment under LomV
- We have noticed a substantial improvement in the way our problems are understood, because the fact that structural adjustment programmes are taken into account now is something to be welcomed, particularly in view of the emphasis on the ACPs being autonomous when it comes to identifying the need for structural adjustment, laying down guidelines (political ones included) for it and deciding on the programmes which are to get support. Too big a gap between the hard - line measures and the cushioning ones is a very, very serious threat to the structural adjustment programmes - and not just to their political and social acceptability either, but to efficient implementation, because of the difficulties it creates with the partners and I think it is a good thing for the EEC to set the example here.
Interview by R.D.B.