|The Courier N° 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)|
European Parliament welcomes Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela, Vice - President of the African National Congress (ANC), was welcomed by Community MPs when he visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 11 - 14 June. The House paid tribute to his courage and democratic convictions and to his determination to seek broad agreement on new democratic institutions in South Africa. Since you were freed, European Parliament President Enrique Baron Crespo told Mr Mandela, the whole world has been impressed by your sense of dignity and immense bravery and especially by your will to dialogue with the South African Government to find a peaceful solution to the problems raised by apartheid... Therein lies the immense strength of the unshakeable tenacity of the past 30 years which has sustained you in your uncompromising rejection of racial segregation and in your quest for a new political order based on one man, one vote.
Nelson Mandela responded to the President and other speakers by saying that, in pursuing the cause of the freeing of all the political prisoners in South Africa and the emancipation of our people from racial bondage, the European Parliament had given proof of the nobility of the human mind .
He went on to stress to importance of maintaining economic sanctions against the South African Government. He reminded the House of his confidence in President De Klerks good faith and recognised the progress which the South African Head of State had made towards abolishing apartheid. However, Mr Mandela said, the principal foundations of the apartheid policy were still in place and it would be weakening the ANC to remove the economic sanctions against the Pretoria Government now. It would be a knife in our peoples back, because the conditions for relaxing external pressure on the Pretoria authorities were not there, he thought. We want to put you seriously on your guard that any retreat from this position would be a threat to the process of negotiation itself - a plea repeated time and time again in the many talks he had with leading political, economic and trade union figures in Strasbourg.
Nelson Mandela also mentioned the economic aspects of what he was doing. It is equally important for the political changes to be accompanied by significant economic transformations , he maintained, as we have to make sure that the economy serves the interests of all our people and is used to put an end to the terrible poverty and deprivation which are the legacy of apartheid.
And here, Mr Mandela said in answer to a question from The Courrier, the Community had a considerable part to play in the process of establishing democracy and peace in South Africa. More specifically, he also hoped that the Community would provide a large amount of aid to resettle (roughly 120 000) refugees, train workers and ensure the general development of the economy.
The European Parliament, with a left - wing majority, supported and voted for a resolution to maintain economic sanctions against Pretoria.
But the French Liberal, Simone Veil, also took a constructive position, pleading for sanctions to be maintained but also for a gesture to be made to President De Klerk so as not to ignore the efforts of the South African Head of State - who had to stand up to white extremists, just as Nelson Mandela had to stand up to the hard - liners of violent action in the black population.
Before leaving Strasbourg for Rome, Canada and the USA, Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie, together with Peter Pekane. the ANC representative in Brussels, received a delegation of ACP Ambassadors led by Amaduaogo (Burkina Faso), the President of the OAU Group in Brussels, and Raymond Chasle (Mauritius), the doyen of the ACP diplomatic corps. The meeting was also attended by, Emmanuel Gasana, the Head of the OAU office in Brussels, and Kapembe Nsingo, the Zambian Ambassador, who paid enthusiastic tribute to Mr Mandela.
In 1988, the European Parliament awarded Nelson Mandela the Sakharov prize, which goes to leading figures who have made a significant contribution to the furtherance of human rights and freedoms. The publishers P. Staedl, of Strasbourg, also paid a philatelic tribute to the South African leader at the Palais de lEurope.
ACP National Authorising Officers or their representatives recently met in the ACP Secretariat - General in Brussels to pool their experience of the implementation of LomAt their previous meeting three years ago, also in ACP House, they had concentrated on the preparation, execution, supervision and evaluation of projects, but this time, although considerable attention was paid to the problems of implementing LomII, the discussions, chaired by N.Rapha Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, focused on the provisions of LomV - and perfectly reasonably, too, since the programming for the new Convention is only a few weeks away and the National Authorising Officers have an essential part to play in it.
In the middle of their fortnights work, they met representatives of the Commission and the EIB to exchange views on various topics, including the forthcoming programming of Community aid. The first phase (indication of the amount) in this five - phase process has already taken place and the announcement of the first instalment of the structural adjustment funds, the expression of ACP intentions, the discussions between the ACP authorities and the Commission Delegates and the negotiation of the indicative programme come next. And there is the internal approval process in the ACPs and the Commission in addition.
As far as the principles of programming are concerned, LomV confirms and reinforces LomII, particularly when it comes to sectoral policies, the focusing of aid, the notions of mutual commitment and the policy dialogue. The Commission, through Manuel Marin, has, as we know, made it clear that it wants to see all the indicative programmes signed before the end of the year, which, Deputy Director - General for Development, Philippe Soubestre, says, means a rather different approach from that used before. Only where absolutely essential will the Commission now send out missions and it is the Delegate who will be negotiating and concluding the indicative programme - which should, where appropriate, include new areas such as population and demography, support for the private sector and structural adjustment. Regional aid, too, will be focused on a limited number of sectors, but the fact that economic integration is the central aim of cooperation under LomV makes this a harder and more demanding task.
The EIB representative said that the LomII system of earmarking 40 - 45 % of the risk capital for the least developed countries, each of which would be notified of the minimum amount it would be receiving, was to be continued. The Bank would be emphasising aid to private projects this time a new policy departure, although this kind of operation had already been financed before - and using ACP development banks and the private banking sector there to do so.
At the end of the discussions Dieter Frisch, the Director - General for Development, came in to suggest that the National Authorising Officers meet the Commission Delegates as often as possible to see where the bottlenecks are. In his eyes. they bore just as much responsibility as the negotiators, who would have been indulging in art for arts sake if the Convention were not properly applied.
The Commission has just taken these financing decisions following a favourable opinion from the EDF Committee:
Burundu, Rwanda and Tauzania
Bukombe - lsaka road
Grant: ECU 42 000 000
This project sets out to asphalt the 113 km Bukombe - lsaka stretch of the surfaced road linking Isaka with Rusomo and the Rwandese frontier. A road - rail terminal for goods in transit to landlocked Rwanda (and to a lesser extent other countries in the sub - region too) is being built at Isaka, also with EDF funds, so the new project is one of a series of Community - financed schemes to improve the landlocked countries transport infrastructure by means of the Tanzanian central corridor. It will also supply maintenance equipment and material to enable the Tanzanian authorities to maintain the whole of the Isaka - Rusomo route.
Rural health facilities
Grant: ECU 3000000
Moderate efficiency of a complete health service is the aim here, as a basis for the development of primary health care, with restrictions on nonessential consultations in expensive hospital departments.
The project, which will help the Ministry of Health and the Medical Services put the national health plan into practice, comprises three main complementary, properly structured operations:
- a system of health information and cost recovery;
- permanent training courses for nurses;
- a general equipment and infrastructure programme.
Angola, Cameroon, CAR, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sao Tomnd PrincipZa and Zambia
Regional cultural cooperation in the Bantu world
Grant: ECU 5 600 000
This cultural cooperation programme has been designed to help develop and bring a dynamic approuch to Bantu culture in all the countries which share it and are part of it. It is being run from CICIBA, the International Centre for Bantu Civilisations, in Libreville and the idea is to support a series of cultural activities to benefit people in the member countries of CICIBA and Cameroon.
Memory and creativity and their place in the development process are the focal themes of the programme, which will start by helping with the collection in the field, the conservation and the exploitation of Bantu knowledge and know - how (oral tradition, language, music, dance, manufacturing processes, etc. ) in all the countries concerned by multidisciplinary teams trained and equipped for this purpose. A series of (art and craft, drama, literary, etc.) microprojects will be run alongside this to make for better appreciation of the cultural dimension and improve on the way it is included in the development process. Encouragement will also be given to present - day artists by means of such things as an artwork purchasing centre and support for various regional cultural events.
Maritime protection installations
4th, 5th and 6th EDFs
Grant: ECU 2 711 000
Coastal protection facilities around St Helena are to be improved by the construction of concrete groynes at St James and Ruperts Bays. The present system can no longer cope with the destruction wrought by heavy storms and the infrastructure has to be improved if the installations on the coast are to be preserved and the wellbeing of the local people maintained.
Aid for agriculture
4th, 5th and 6th EDFs
Grant: ECU I 557000
This project will be providing funds to finance the Falklands agricultural assistance system run on behalf of the Government by the Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC). The system helps local farmers with financing to invest in infrastructure to stimulate the growth of the islands main productive sector.
Wallis and Futuna
Improvements to roods
Grant: ECU I 300000
Loan: ECU 600 000
This scheme, which is part of the territorys road improvement initiative, is also intended to give the islands a degree of independence by providing plant for public works.
The Public Works Department will be endowed with new plant and equipment so it can both ensure new (road and drainage) installations and maintain the existing network in Wallis and Futuna. Roadworks will also be carried out over 6.95 km (2.7 km on Futuna and 4.25 km on Wallis).
Members of ECOWAS and the CEAO
Automatic statistical and customs data processing
Grant: ECU 5000000
The idea here is to encourage regional integration and boost trade in West Africa by setting up a regional data processing system to handle trade statistics and customs information in ECOWAS and the CEAO.
The project will standardise statistics and customs data and centralise them in the region. Successive schemes will be run to define a common method of compiling external trade statistics in the countries belonging to the two organisations, produce a comparative table of nomenclature and then get the customs procedures computerised in the member countries with the TRACE programme devised by the Statistical Office of the European Community.
Assistance for the FIIRO Research Institute
Grant: ECU I 200000
Technical and financial assistance is to be provided here to three institutes - FIIRO (a federal body dealing with industrial research), PRODA (project development) and the NBRRI (research into roads and construction) - so that applied research programmes can be run to help solve current and potential problems in the industrial sector.
Business development plan
Grant: ECU I 500 000
The business development plan is part of a global scheme to boost the productivity of the manufacturing industry, commercial services and international trade.
The idea is to improve the potential of activities in these sectors, particularly with export in mind. The direct effect of this financing proposal should be a 15 % average annual increase in the sales of manufacturing, trading and service companies over the period of the project.
The plan provides for technical assistance with setting up a management unit in an organisation called CURACAO Incorporated (a consortium of firms and bodies from both the private and public sectors) and a fund to help with marketing, training, management, investment and feasibility studies in existing and future firms.
Tanzania, Za, Burundi,
Rwanda and Uganda
Grant: ECU 36000000
Goods to and from Za, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda transit across Tanzania through its central corridor and goods to and from Zambia, Malawi and other SADCC countries through its southern corridor. All these countries use Tanzanian facilities, in the light of corridor capacity and political situation, for their imports and exports. This project aims to improve the transit of goods through the central corridor by providing the Tanzanian Railway Company with the rolling stock to make up and run six shuttles to and from the landlocked countries of Za, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Financial support for technical assistance with traffic management is also included.
The shuttles will only be used to shift transit goods for the landlocked nations from the port of Dar - esSalaam by the TRC central line to Kigoma (for Zaire and Burundi), Isaka (for Rwanda and Burundi) and Mwanza (for Uganda).
Technical and institutional support for the forestry
Grant: ECU I 190000
Forestry is important to this countrys economy, accounting for almost 50% of export earnings and around 37% of national tax revenue in 1987. But since production is still far short of the potential figure, the nations development strategy is largely based on expanding activity in the sector and a number of funders are sending aid with the twofold aim of bringing exploitation up to the appropriate level and maintaining the balance of the tropical forest as an ecosystem and an economic asset.
The project is to provide:
- aerial photographic and radar coverage of continental
Equatorial Guinea to produce a detailed inventory of the forestry
- logistical support and technical assistance for OCIPEF, the forestry information and promotion board;
- training for national staff.
Grant: ECU 3420000
This is the consolidation and extension of a lowland rice development operation in Comorovince in south - western Burkina Faso. It follows on from the first project to develop rice - growing in the Comoegional Development Organisation, which has had ECU 2.9 million in Community financing since 1978.
The present scheme, phase two, involves developing a total of 620 ha (spread over 10 different sites), using partial irrigation, to add to the 850 ha (seven sites) already developed, while the drive to organise the exploitation of the plots, with peasant management and more modern growing methods, is continued alongside.
Roads in the commercial district of Ouagadougou
Grant: ECU 3 730 000
Roads serving Ouagadougous new central market are to be rehabilitated under this scheme. The work, which involves rebuilding about 5.6 km of road and 7.4 km of channels, includes attendant investments in such items as parking spaces and bus stops.
This is one of the priority urban projects for the development of the commercial district of the capital, the first stage of which was the rebuilding of the main central market, and it complies with the general specifications laid down in August 1985 on land use, traffic and the nature of the infrastructure used to develop the area.
Members of RECTAS and other countries of Central and West Africa
Support for RECTAS
Grant: ECU 3 000 000
The aim of the project is to improve RECTAS training (and research) potential and thereby give the African countries more independence in such areas as training in photographic surveying, cartography, photographic reproduction and remote sensing for resource inventory and management.
The project, to be run with the International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences, the leading partner, and the Groupement pour le Dloppement de la Tdction Aspatiale, an associate, will provide RECTAS with institutional support between July 1990 and June 1995.
Africa in general and the west and central regions in particular will get the benefit of this improvement in the services RECTAS provides.
The project includes training in the Netherlands and France for RECTAS staff - i.e. study grants for courses and practical traineeships (short missions) designed specially to update knowledge.
Grant: ECU I 500 000
This is to:
- improve those areas of the public sector to which Community
aid is granted;
- raise vocational training standards.
This will be achieved mainly through grants for study in Europe, training courses in Uganda, a supply of teaching materials and equipment and the provision of technical assistance.
Sectoral import programme
Grant: ECU 41 000 000
The programme is the result of the National Authorising Officers request to reorient the indicative programme to make for financing for a sectoral import programme to back up the economic recovery drive the Government is currently running in coordination with the Washington institutions. A first phase of financial stabilisation should considerably reduce the public finance and balance of payments deficits. The Government has already taken steps to cut public spending, particularly in the cocoa and coffee sectors and in the civil service, and operating and investment expenditure has gone down, too. A second phase should see the right conditions for medium - term recovery through reforms to make the country economically competitive again. The restructuring the Government is to undertake (though agriculture and energy sector adjustment programmes) has been negotiated with the IBRD.
The ECU 41 m programme involves the country getting about 2 300 000 barrels of crude via SIR, the Ivorian refining company, which will pay the counterpart funds into a special account at the treasury, to be spent on rural development (about 60%) and health (about 40%).
Jamaica: ECU I m for equity participations in small and medium - scale companies
The European Investment Bank is providing a global loan of ECU I m to Trafalgar Development Bank (TDB), a private sector institution in Jamaica. TDB will use the proceeds of the loan to take equity participations in small and medium - scale enterprises in the industrial, agroindustrial and tourism sectors throughout Jamaica.
The funds are advanced for 25 years at 2% in the form of a conditional loan from risk capital resources provided for under the Third Lomonvention and managed by the EIB.
TDB was incorporated in 1983 and major shareholders are eight Jamaican private companies, as well as Deutsche Finanzierungsgesellschaft fur Beteiligungen in Entwicklungslandern (DEG) and Nederlandse Financieringsmaatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMA).
This operation is the fourth in Jamaica under the third Lomonvention and the first from risk capital resources. A global loan of ECU 10 m was granted to the National Development Bank in 1986 for financing small and medium - sized projects in industry, agro - industry and tourism. In 1987 the EIB provided ECU 5.2 m for the extension of the port of Montego Bay, and in 1989 ECU 16 m for the extension und upgrading of the Kingston container terminal.
Malawi: ECU 2.5 m for water supply
The European Investment Bank also provided two loans totalling ECU 2.5 m for expanding the water supply in Blantyre, Malawis major industrial and commercial centre.
The funds are being made available under LomII to the Republic of Malawi in form of:
- a loan of ECU I m from the EIBs own resources, for on - lending to Blantyre Water Board (BWB), the official body responsible for the citys water supply. The loan is advanced for 15 years at 6.05 %, allowing for an interest rate subsidy drawn from EDF resources;
- a conditional loan of ECU 1.5 m for 20 years at 2% from risk capital resources provided for under the Convention and managed by the EIB. The State will use the proceeds of the loan to fund a convertible loan to BWB.
The project, which is part of a larger investment programme
requiring some ECU 25 m over a period to the mid - 199Os, comprises the
refurbishment of pumps ensuring the transmission of water from source to the
urban network, expansion of treatment installations, enlargement of the
citys main reservoir and the study and design in preparation for the next
phase of the expansion programme. The investment will allow BWB to meet
Blantyres growing water requirements and will ensure greater reliability
of supply. Works are scheduled to be completed by the end of 1991.
15th anniversary of the ACP Group
The 15th anniversary of the signing of the agreement setting up the ACP Group (Georgetown, 6 June 1975) was celebrated in ACP House in Brussels. ACP Secretary - General Ghebray Berhane went over the main stages in the life of the Group at the press conference held on this occasion and announced that the ACP Ambassadors had just met to discuss cooperation within the ACP Group, its experience, its achievements in relation to its aims, its difficulties and, most important, its future - a subject to be taken further by a special working party. This, which comprised the officers of the Committee of Ambassadors, two or three other co - opted members and the Secretary General himself, was expected to complete the first part of its work in July and to prepare for a second, specific meeting in the second half of the year.
The anniversary celebrations continued in the evening with a reception in a Brussels hotel to which many ACP and European personalities were invited.
Various speakers recalled the difficult history of the ACP Group, which is now finding it has an important part to play in international economic relations.
In his capacity as Secretary - General of the ACP - EEC Cultural Foundation, the Mauritian Ambassador, Raymond Chasle, the doyen of the ACP diplomatic corps, also gave the results of the competition run two year ago to find the best answers to a quiz on the ACPs and the best technical invention by one or more young ACP nationals.
The quiz winners, youngsters from the CAR ( 1st prize) and Burkina Faso (2nd prize), will be getting flight tickets to Europe via Kenya, and Bfrs 1000 000 (about US $ 30 000) goes to the winning inventor, a young Tanzanian who devised a machine to process sugar cane.
Music for the reception, folksongs from Nigeria, was provided by one of that countrys best bands.
Two new Ambassadors, from Rwanda and Sudan, have presented their credentials to the Presidents of the Council and the Commission of the European Communities.
Frans Ngarukiyintwali, a 50 year old who began a lifetimes career in his countrys diplomatic service in 1964, has been Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Director - General for External Relations and Secretary General at the Foreign Ministry and spent 10 years (1979 - 89) as Foreign Minister before coming to Brussels.
Saeed Saad Mahgoub Saad, the new Sudanese Ambassador, now 54, qualified in economics at the Universities of East Anglia and Leicester in the United Kingdom. He left a short career in banking to enter the diplomatic service and has since held various posts, including that of Sudans Permanent Representative to the UN and Ambassador to Japan, South Korea and Australia.
A high - level delegation visits the Commission
A ministerial delegation from Namibia led by Mr Ben Amathila, Minister of Trade and Industry, held exploratory talks with Commission officials in Brussels from 31 May to 6 June prior to the countrys accession to the Lomonvention. The delegation, which included Gert Hanekom, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Deon Gous, deputy secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Peter Manning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and H. W. Kreft, Managing Director of the Namibian Meat Board, met several times with Vice - President Manuel Marin and held meetings with Dieter Frisch, Director - General for Development, and his two deputies Peter Pooley and Philippe Soubestre.
The purpose of the visit, which was made at the invitation of Commissioner Marin, was to get first hand information on the Convention and become acquainted with its procedures. A few days after Namibias independence, the country expressed its desire to accede to the Lomonvention.
The issues raised during this visit covered Namibias main areas of interest, including trade arrangements, financial and technical cooperation, Stabex, Sysmin and the Beef Protocol. At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Amathila said that his country was hoping to be given a realistic quota for beef exports to the EEC.
The formal negotiations for accession are expected to start in July and by September it is hoped that Nambia will become a full member of the Convention. It will then be able, under the transitional measures, to benefit from the trade provisions. Only when the Convention is finally ratified, however, will its financial and technical provisions be applicable to all ACP countries.
Cape Verdean Prime Minister Pedro Peres in Brussels
Pedro Peres, Cape Verdes PM, met Commission Vice - President Manuel Marin, who is responsible for Development and Fisheries, on 23 April.
The Brussels visit, during which the Prime Minister was accompanied by Adao da Silva Rocha, Minister of Industry and Mining, was the opportunity to discuss three subjects of special mutual interest - bilateral relations between the EEC and Cape Verde, regional cooperation and Cape Verdes eligibility for the LomV structural adjustment allocation.
EEC - Cape Verde relations
Mr Marin and Mr Peres said they were pleased with the way things were at the moment. Both parties thought that the prospects of speeding up implementation of the LomII national indicative programme and renewing the multiannual food aid agreement between the EEC and Cape Verde (concluded for a two - year period on 15 May 1987 and due for examination by the Food Aid Committee this May) were good.
The Cape Verdean Delegation also gave its views on the LomV indicative programme for which it will be receiving ECU 27 million (the LomII figure was ECU 23 million). The schemes this time will probably focus on urban development in Praia, the capital, as they did under the previous Convention.
The Delegation mentioned the countrys particular regional cooperation problems and prospects under LomV.
Cape Verde, an island, has relations with its neighbours in the Sahel and with other Portuguese - speaking countries of Africa and it would like the LomV regional programme to bear this in mind. The Prime Minister also mentioned the possibility of taking part in regional programmes which would provide support for his countrys present policy of economic opening.
Eligibility for structural adjustment arrangements
The Cape Verdeans told Manuel Marin of the Governments economic policy plans, two of the most important aspects of which were greater opening onto the international economy and the reorganisation of some sectors.
Mr Marin made it clear that, once the Cape Verdean authorities had finalised their economic projects, they would discuss jointly how far these met the criteria which the Convention lays down for eligibility for structural adjustment. Cape Verde is in fact not automatically entitled to this assistance as it is not currently running any structural adjustment measures, but it could become eligible if it embarked upon a programme of reform which was recognised and backed by the main multilateral funders or if it demonstrated that it complied with the criteria (on levels of indebtedness, repayment problems, the monetary and budgetary situation, unemployment, etc.) mentioned in Article 246 of LomV.
Gabonese Prime Minister visits the Commission
Casimir Oyba, Prime Minister and Head of the Gabonese Government, visited Brussels at the head of a large delegation which included the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Planning, Mining, Hydrocarbons and Agriculture and the Minister delegated to the Prime Ministers Office with responsibility for Decentralisation. On 11 June, the Prime Minister told a press conference that his mission was one of friendship, explanation and information. Mr Oybas Government was formed in a sensitive political context after the national conference - a very big moment in the political life of Gabon and what the President wanted and it is in office on a transitional basis pending the legislative elections.
All members of Gabonese society had the opportunity to say what they thought for a month and their requests were put to the President, who granted many of them - the constitution of a new Government (formed on 29 April 1990) with a range of political colours, for example, the adoption of a basic charter of freedoms, the setting up of a commission to prepare the future Constitution, the launching of a campaign to bring order to the national economy and a drive to rationalise public finances.
The Prime Minister placed particular emphasis on the effort they were making to reform the public sector. This was something they were tackling in depth, pragmatically and without being dogmatic and, since the populations needs had to be met at a reasonable cost, it might well go as far as the liquidation or privatisation of some public firms which were a permanent drain on the State Budget. The results would be apparent in the long term.
The rationalisation of public finances, currently running an intolerable deficit, was being sought through a cut in State spending (reducing staff costs and reorganising the institutions), an increase in State revenue (particularly from oil and customs) and an attempt to handle the problem of debt - for which, Mr Oyba said, there should be special solutions for countries like his. We want to pay our debts, but we cant pay them all, and so the creditors should make a gesture, he maintained, remembering that Gabon, too, has something to offer... and that it is in no ones interest to see it go down .
The Gabonese Delegation, which came from Paris to visit the Belgian authorities and the Commission of the European Communities in Brussels, then travelled to Luxembourg.
When the Prime Minister met Manuel Marin and presented his Governments economic and political programme, the Commissioner congratulated him on progress with the political and economic democratisation process, but stressed the importance that the Commission and the whole Community attached to human rights.
Ethiopian Deputy PM visits Brussels
Wollie Chekol, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, visited Brussels on 7 May on his tour of Europe and America to tell the various cooperation partners about his countrys recent reforms. In March, the Government passed a number of resolutions, in particular bringing in a programme of economic reform and an overhaul of both the party and the political structure of the nation - the latter to make for coherence with the economic changes.
The main aim of the programme is to promote a mixed economy, using the machinery of the market, encourage the private sector, make public management more competitive and profitable, form cooperatives on a strictly voluntary basis and decentralise economic decision - making.
The appropriate steps have been taken to do this, in particular by abolishing ceilings on private investment, introducing a large number of tax and customs incentives (such things as repatriation of dividends and income tax exemption for foreign investors who plough their profits back into the country), preparing for membership of MIGA (the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency) and making it possible for foreign investors to have majority holdings in Ethiopian firms.
The Deputy Prime Minister thought that the assets of the Ethiopian economy (relatively well - developed infrastructure, a good standard of financial services, human resources etc.) were such that the reforms he had described would make for rapid progress in the 90s provided the international community backed up the national effort, particularly when it came to structural adjustment, financial and technical cooperation and private investments.
This is why the Ethiopian mission was not just to visit representatives of the authorities of the countries on its tour, but businessmen as well.
Salim Ahmed Saim,
OAU Secretary - General, on tour
The Secretary - General of the OAU visited Brussels in June as part of a tour he made to establish contact and get a better idea of the methods the Community used in its work and cooperation with the ACP States. This was an opportunity for Salim Ahmed Salim to talk to many people, including Ghebray Berhane, Secretary - General of the ACP Group, officials of the Commission of the European Communities and representatives of the Belgian authorities.
At a press conference in ACP House, Mr Salim said he thought that human rights, and political ones especially, were not just the concern of Europe, but of Africa as well. But he rejected the idea of aid being tied to political conditions, because, he maintained, African States ought not have the feeling that they are undergoing external pressure to be democratic in their own countries.
The Courier will be reporting on Mr Salims visit in greater detail in the next issue.
Mr Marin visits Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda
From 2 to 9 June, Vice - President Manuel Marin, Commissioner for Development and Fisheries, paid an official visit to Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Under the new LomV Convention signed by 68 ACP States and the 12 EC - Member States on 15 December 1989 and covering the period 1990 - 200O, Tanzania continues to be in the top group of recipient countries among the ACP States. Tanzania will receive a minimum of ECU 195 million (US$ 230 m) for the period 19901995, of which ECU 166 m in grants.
During his visit, Vice - President Marin held discussions with the President, Ali Hasasan Mwinyi, as well as the Second Vice - President, Idris Abdul Wakil, and several Ministers. The principal themes of discussions were the political prospects for Tanzania and the whole region, those of cooperation and development and the major objectives of Tanzania within the structural adjustment process. Mr Marin was duly impressed by the efforts of the government towards economic recovery and confirmed future EC - support for the transport sector, agriculture, with special emphasis on coffee, and for the social sector. He also stressed the importance of further measures and decisions to be taken and implemented by the Government in order to obtain optimum results from EC - investments.
During his visit, the Vice - President signed two financing agreements concerning blocktrains on TRC for landlocked countries and the construction of the Isaka - Bukome Road, a stretch mostly used for regional traffic to and from Rwanda and Burundi. He also visited two EC - financed projects in Zanzibar.
The aim of this first official visit to Kenya was to discuss with the authorities the present state of implementation and future prospects of cooperation between the EEC and Kenya.
During his visit Mr Marin met President Daniel Arap Moi, Vice President and Minister of Finance, George Saitoti, Dr Z. Onyonka, Minister of Planning and National Development, as well as several Ministers and officials responsible for cooperation.
He confirmed that Europes commitment towards its ACP partners has not been modified by the efforts that are being deployed in view of the completion of the internal market in 1992, or by the possibilities of closer cooperation with Eastern European countries, following the changes presently occurring in these countries. Mr Marin stressed that although there is a real risk of growth in economic disparities, the effects of the ECs internal market and the democratisation in Eastern Europe must not be viewed pessimistically: they constitute above all a challenge and an opportunity that ACP countries must not ignore. The signature of the fourth Lomonvention underlines the strength of Europes ties with the ACP countries.
During the meetings, the outlook for the Kenyan economy and for Kenya/EEC cooperation was reviewed. Vice - President Marin expressed his appreciation of the strong performance of the Kenyan economy in the past few years and for the determination of the government to implement a number of important reforms aimed at redressing some structural imbalances of the economy. He recalled the contribution that the EEC has made to the structural adjustment policy in Kenya, through a majors reform programme m the cereals sector and through balance of payments support in the form of an agricultural import programme. The prospects of further cooperation in this field were also examined.
For the period 1990 - 95, Kenya will be entitled to a minimum of ECU 140 million in programmable resources, entirely in the form of grants, to which an allocation will be added for structural adjustment. It will also be entitled to other EEC resources, such as STABEX, depending on the trends on the coffee market, food aid, co - financing with nongovernmental organisations, and loans by the European Investment Bank.
Under the new LomV Convention, Uganda, like Tanzania, continues to be in the top group of recipient countries; it will be entitled to a minimum of ECU 160 million (US$ 190 million) for the period 1990 - 1995, out of which ECU 145 m is in grants and the balance in very soft loans.
During his visit, Vice - President Marin had discussions with President Yoweri Museveni and several Ministers and senior officials. The principal themes of discussions were the political outlook for Uganda and the whole region, cooperation and development and the major objectives of Ugandas adjustment efforts.
Mr Marin also pointed out the need for private initiatives and investments in order to ensure sustained economic and social growth.
During his visit, the Commission Vice - President announced the approval of a number of new projects and signed several financing agreements concerning additional wagons for Uganda Railways Corporation, microprojects for Northern and Eastern districts and a training programme for a total of ECU 9.5 m (US$ 11.5m). Mr Marin visited several EC - fnanced projects in Kampala and in the South - West.
Protection for forest ecosystems in Central Africa
Brazzaville was host to a ministerial forestry conference on 31 May and 1
June. The meeting was held on the initiative of the Congolese Government, with the collaboration and participation of the Commission of the European Communities, and it brought together Ministers responsible for forestry and conservation in seven countries of Central Africa - Cameroon, CAR, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomnd Principnd Za.
The main aim of the conference, which was preceded by a preparatory meeting, was to approve a request for financing from the Commission of the European Communities (about ECU 24 m over a period of three years) for a regional programme of conservation and rational utilisation of the forestry ecosystems of Central Africa.
The programme, designed with the provisions of LomII in mind, is completely in line with the new LomV guidelines on the protection of the environment and natural resources. It is also an integral part of the Central African regional plan for the protection of the tropical forests which the Ministers adopted at the conference.
The approach which the seven countries adopted and advertised during the conference is a model of regional cooperation - a Lombjective which the Commission has always kept to the fore.
And it is an avant - garde approach to protecting the tropical forests, too. As A.J. Fairclough (special adviser to Manuel Marin, who represented the EEC Commission at the conference), said in his opening speech, developing this forest is developing our region and giving it something other parts of the world do not have - a positive and exemplary image of man being reconciled with his environment.
At the end of the conference, the Declaration of Brazzaville on the Conservation and Rational Utilisation of Forestry Ecosystems in Central Africa was adopted and made public.
The Community has just proposed a coherent and pragmatic method of gradually integrating textiles in a stronger GATT at the Uruguay Round discussions in Geneva, thereby showing its desire to make headway with the negotiations in the hope of obtaining an outline agreement in July. The recommended system is based on the gradual liberalisation of the existing Multifibre Arrangement.
The Community has already rejected all idea of a system based on the globalisation of restrictions, since this does not comply with the demand of gradual reduction of the existing restrictions.
Its suggestion for the dismantling of restrictions in the textile sector is fully compatible with the real and gradual integration of textiles in GATT and would start with the existing restrictions at their present level - not therefore holding the present conditions of access to markets up to question. The Community is also willing to negotiate a list of products which could be included in GATT at once, without any need for transitional arrangements.
The transitional programme provides for stage - by - stage dismantling in the light of existing agreements and rules known to the economic operators so they would be able to see far enough ahead to ensure the greater, harmonious development of trade.
Each stage in the transitional period should, the Community says, involve:
- liberalisation of a number of restrictions, each country having to take such decisions as are required to achieve the agreed percentage of liberalisation at each stage;
- better market access where restrictions are maintained, to be achieved by a gradual increase in quotas, the possibilities of flexibility and a guarantee of minimum growth in exceptional circumstances.
Transitional safeguard machinery is provided to cope with any problems which arise during the transitional period. However, the Community proposed that specific provisions be made to ensure that such machinery did not impede dismantling.
Lastly, the Community again said that the dismantling of restrictions must take place in conjunction with application of the stronger GATT rules and regulations designed to ensure the opening of markets and the creation of fair conditions of competition. It also said it had already suggested setting up a multilateral system of monitoring and checking on commitments, fulfilment of which triggered the beginning of the next stage.
Its proposals confirmed the fact that it had embarked on the Uruguay Round with the firm political will to orchestrate a credible collective drive to liberalise the trade in textiles for the benefit of all concerned.
The references to Swaziland on pages 6, 9, 155 and 185 of No 120 of The Courier, taken in good faith from a document in fact containing an error, should be replaced by the exact title of the Head of State of Swaziland: His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Community relief for Palestinian refugees
Abel Matutes, the Commissioner responsible for the Mediterranean policy, recently signed a new EEC - UNWRA agreement (for 1990 - 92) with Giorgio Giacomelli, the General Commissioner of the UN Work and Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees. It involves the Community granting a total of about ECU 72 million for 1990, 1991 and 1992, plus food aid worth an estimated ECU 20 m p.a.
The Community has been backing UNWRA with three - year agreements since 1972. Its total assistance to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza so far (direct contributions in cash to education programmes and in kind in the case of food aid progammes) is an estimated ECU 429.4 m (1972 - 89) and it and the Member States are the biggest contributors to the Agencys programmes (with 23 % and 17 % respectively).
And not only has the Community contributed to UNWRAs normal budget. It has also backed emergency programmes in Lebanon and the occupied territories - ECU 1.6 m in 1987 (Lebanon), ECU 1.7m in 1988 (occupied territories), ECU 290 000 in 1989 (occupied territories) and ECU 370 000 in April 1990 (occupied territories).
The Commission proposes updating the Mediterranean policy
The Commission has adopted a communication from the Council aimed at updating the Communitys Mediterranean policy along two lines:
- A series of schemes for all third countries in the Mediterranean is to be launched in the fields of the environment, human resources, regional cooperation, joint ventures and projects of common and regional interest. An indicative amount of ECU 420 m has been proposed from the budget, for the period 1992 - 96, and a ceiling for EIB loans has been set at ECU 3 500 m. Some schemes will be able to start in 1991.
- It is suggested that the financial protocols with the eight countries south and east of the Mediterranean (Algeria, Egypt, lsrael, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia) be renewed as from 1 November i 991 and a substantial increase in the level of resources (ECU I 425 m for the budget and ECU I 400 m for EIB loans) included.
The European Council of Strasbourg thought, on the basis of a first Commission communication on the updated Mediterranean policy, that relations between the Community and the third countries in the Mediterranean should be extended and intensified.
The Commission has adopted a second communication detailing operational proposals which can start being applied in 1992 (although one or two could begin in 1991). This is at the suggestion of Abel Matutes, the member of the Commission responsible for the Mediterranean policy.
Generally speaking, the Commission ensures that Community support fits in with the countries own efforts to right their economies and make the appropriate adjustments and it believes that these efforts have to be continued and the external financing of them considerably augmented.
It feels that the creditors, the donors and the Mediterranean countries themselves have to combine various types of schemes - bank financing, lighter debt servicing, more official external financing, more private investment and more efficient use of national savings - to cope with the debt and suggests ways of cooperating with the Member States in cases of debt crisis. The Commission also proposes that the Community increase the opportunity for discussion on economic matters (general aspects, monetary, financial, agricultural and industrial considerations, transport, etc.), social issues (immigration and demography) and political questions of joint interest with its Mediterranean partners.
On the trade front, the Commission thinks the time is ripe to bring textiles into the free access arrangements provided for in the current cooperation and association agreements. This would be done in a gradual manner, in the light of positive results of the textile negotiations in the Uruguay Round.
The Commission is also favourably disposed towards the introduction of rules authorising cumulative origin for such groups of third Mediterranean countries as requested it.
It feels that, pending the tariff dismantling (I January 1986 at the latest), a response to requests from some of the Mediterranean partners could be made by bringing limited changes to quotas, ceilings, timetables and new products in the trade in agricultural products.
When it comes to cooperation with the Mediterranean as a whole, the Commissions idea is that better economic cohesion should be brought about between the Community and the partners with such things as support for regional cooperation, the development of enterprise, incentives for private European investors, environmental protection, the development of human resources and the financing of projects of regional or common interest. And scientific and technical cooperation will be actively pursued in the energy sector.
The (indicative) financial means to be earmarked for this are ECU 420 m from the budget (ECU 100 m for the environment and ECU 100 m for joint ventures) and ECU 3 500 m from the EIB (10% of it for environmental operations, with interest rebates), although the amounts budgeted for such schemes hitherto have been very small (totalling ECU 3.5 m in 1 990).
The financial protocols with the eight countries south and east of the Mediterranean expire on 31 October 1991 and the Commission proposes to renew them, keeping the amounts for each countrys programme (an important guarantee for the recipients) and adding a non - programme, all countries amount to be used as support to ensure the rapid success and cushion the social effects of economic reforms.
The proposed means for this are ECU 1.425 m for five years from the budget (as against ECU 815 before) and ECU 1.400 m from the EIB (ECU I 003 m before).
All the suggested budget means are included in proposed revisions of the financial prospects adopted by the Commission on 21 February 1990. These proposals mean a substantial increase in the financial means the Community has available for the Mediterranean - an amount to which will soon be added the figures to be decided for Yugoslavia and Turkey.
The Commissions proposals reflect the quantitative and qualitative improvements which it hopes to bring about in relations between the Community and the third Mediterranean countries, as it is convinced that geographical proximity and the intensity of relations of all kinds make the stability and prosperity of these countries an essential aspect of the future of the Community itself.
EEC - LAA
New guidelines for the 1990s
The Commission has adopted the new guidelines for cooperation with the countries of Latin America and Asia. On the initiative of Mr Matutes, the Commission is proposing to the Council and Parliament the implementation of a balanced package of cooperation instruments structured along two major lines: development aid for the poorest population groups, and economic cooperation with regions which have high growth potential. Particular attention is given to environmental considerations.
The new guidelines are accompanied, for the first time, by a five - year financial perspective amounting to ECU 2 900 m for the period 19911 995.
The Commission proposal is a response to the political need to increase the levels of financing and adapt the instruments used for cooperation - which had never been reviewed since it began in 1976, despite the profound changes which have taken place in Latin America, Asia and the Community itself.
The strengthening of Community cooperation with the Latin American and Asian (LAA) developing countries, as proposed by the Commission, takes account of the tremendous needs of the 40 developing countries concerned, with their population of 2 300 million and their extremely diverse economic, social and cultural situations.
The Commission also wishes to ensure that LAA cooperation remains consistent with the Communitys policies of cooperation with the developing countries in the Mediterranean, the ACP countries and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
There are currently two distinct approaches to cooperation between the Community and the LAA developing countries: development aid (financial and technical cooperation, humanitarian and food aid) and economic cooperation (promoting exports and European investments, training, cooperation in the fields of industry, energy, science and technology).
The Commission considers that that, in view of the serious problems facing most of the LAA developing countries (population growth, mass poverty, financial and environmental problems, etc.), Community support should be maintained and strengthened through development aid.
The amount of aid involved should be consistent with the Communitys economic strength and its worldwide responsibilities, since the common feature of all these difficulties is that they seriously hinder development in the countries concerned and are a major threat to world economic equilibria. In the Commissions view, aid should continue to be targeted on the poorest strata of society and the poorest countries but the operating principles should be modernised (e.g. by introducing structural schemes) and more account taken of certain specific problems such as the role of women in development, population growth, environmental and urban problems, etc.
Accordingly, in order to take account of the diversity of situations and new methods of granting aid, the Commission proposes six major areas of action: (i) support for the rural sector in the broad sense, (ii) the environment, (iii) the human dimension of development, (iv) the structural dimension of development, (v) regional cooperation and (vi) aid relating to natural disasters.
At the same time the Commission considers that well - structured and effective economic cooperation between the Community and the LAA developing countries should be promoted.
A considerable number of LAA developing countries or regions have a high growth potential, and this calls for closer forms of cooperation.
Economic cooperation should encourage direct contact between operators, who are the driving force behind economic expansion, and it is thus very much in line with the favourable trends emerging in a number of Asian and Latin American countries: the tendency for the private sector to play an increased role, the introduction of market rules and disciplines, the orientation of economies towards international trade, infrastructure modernisation and extension, the attempt to make better use of human resources in education and research and to encourage people to invest their savings in the manufacturing industries.
The Commission intends to take action on three levels:
(i) to strengthen the scientific and technological potential of the LAA developing countries and facilitate high - level economic and technical dialogue with these countries by speeding up the exchange of information and promoting technology transfers;
(ii) to ensure that the economic environment of the LAA developing countries improves and becomes more favourable to investment and development through appropriate institutional and regulatory support measures;
(iii) to improve the competitiveness of firms by providing better training (technical, in particular), facilitating technological exchange, improving market access and promoting Community investment in these countries.
The environment: an ever - present concern
In the Commissions view, it is essential to develop cooperation on the environment with the developing countries of Latin America and Asia, since the environment is a matter of global concern, some major environmental problems (e.g. protection of the tropical rain forests) relate specifically to the LAA developing countries and there is a clear need for these countries to receive from the Community increased financial and technical support in dealing with environmental problems.
A multiannual perspective and increased financing
In the Commissions view, considerably greater financial resources should be allocated to LAA aid schemes so as to provide the necessary critical mass of aid and to ensure that it is acceptable by comparison with schemes operating in Central and Eastern Europe and the ACP States. The Commission also considers that, for the first time, multiannual perspectives should be established, enabling a medium - term programme of activities to be drawn up in line with the wishes of the Council and Parliament.
In view of the financial discipline imposed by the present inter - institutional Agreement (which expires in 1992) and of the fact that there is, as yet, no agreement relating to the period after 1992, the Commission has decided, for the time being, to limit its proposal to ECU 2900 million for the five - year period 19911995. This amount takes no account of any additional drive for growth which the Community might make nor of any re - consideration by the Commission of its proposals.
Support of economic reform in Eastern and Central Europe: analyses and strategies
In July 1989 the Commission was invited to coordinate the aid efforts of 24 Western countries to Poland and Hungary. The number of recipient countries in Eastern and Central Europe has since been expanded. The Commission decided in the early autumn to bring together a group of high level economic experts from the Member States, Poland and Hungary in order to establish the analytical background for economic reform and aid from the 24 countries, the Community, the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The results of this work are now being presented by Vice - President Christophersen in a special issue of European Economy (no. 43), which is devoted to Economic Transformation in Hungary and Poland.
The papers in this volume emphasise the diversity in the situations of these two countries. But they also show that the critical factors that will determine the successes of the transition from communism to market economies are common to both. First, the private sector is crucial. The public sector can help to ease the transition, but only the private sector can ensure that it is accomplished.
The second insight, which is peculiar to the work of the Commissions group of experts, is the importance of robust sequencing . This means, for example, that privatisation should not be implemented until the tutelage system has been dismantled. This system of bargaining between ministries and enterprises over taxes and subsidies lies at the heart of the lack of competition in the bureaucratic economic system. While it persists, the emergence of a market environment will be hampered.
Sequencing is also important in the context of credibility. If people believe that the change in economic regime will not succeed, their behaviour will bring this about. Hence it is necessary to convince them that the process will be pursued systematically and thoroughly. Yet progress cannot be too slow, since this too would jeopardise the regime change.
Similarly, macroeconomic stabilisation needs to come before structural reform. To embark on liberalisation in conditions of high inflation would be risky, since high inflation impedes rational economic decisions, promotes hoarding and distorts income distribution.
None of this is to say that the same sequencing of measures will be appropriate to all economies. It should be determined on the basis of a detailed assessment of each countrys economic situation, though price stability is always likely to be a priority.
Analysis of policy measures
Central and East European countries have suffered severely from central planning and state trade within the CMEA. The absence of competitive markets in these economies, and their exclusion from the beneficial impact of the international division of labour have contributed to low levels of productivity, outdated technology, slow rates of technological progress and inefficiency in management and organisation. Centralised control of production decisions and administered price systems have compounded these problems.
The economic measures which are summarised below would contribute to a predictable economic environment in which price incentives can work.
Openness and improved access to the world market will be an important stimulus to economic reform. It will require greater convertibility, especially in current transactions, and stronger external monetary reserves. An appropriate exchange rate policy will have to be devised, possibly by pegging currencies to the ecu as a basket currency.
Several countries in transition from socialism suffer from severe internal and external disequilibria. A firm macroeconomic stabilisation plan capable of curbing inflation during the period of structural change will be advisable so as to underpin reforms and signal the change of economic regime.
Sound government financial policies will be required, including reform of the national budget by improving budgetary controls and by eliminating financing through money creation. Reform of the fiscal system, together with more efficient administration and greater openness in taxes and subsidies, will be an important element. A substantial reduction in subsidies is also called for.
To curb inflation, firm monetary policy will be necessary. This will require a strong, independent central bank. For goods and services, efficient markets will imply that centralised price determination and production planning, as well as state interference in the decision - making of firms, must be abandoned.
This should go hand in hand with the creation of a legal framework that includes private property, company, competition and contract law.
Labour markets need fundamental institutional and legal reform in order to end administered full employment and structural rigidity.
Particularly in the transitional period, the necessary training and investment support to private or reformed socialised sectors needs careful monitoring in order to remain conducive to liberalisation.
Improved infrastructure, a cleaner environment and more efficient energy utilisation will improve growth prospects and facilitate reform.
Western assistance and coordination
For the external financing needs of these countries private financing on capital markets must be the general rule. The financing of balance of payments gaps, the provision of structural adjustment or of stabilisation loans would be the exception. In the first phase, however, official assistance may play a role in external financing for many countries, not least to boost confidence. As the transition advances sufficiently to attract a substantial flow of private investment which will be the test of the success of reform - official assistance can be scaled back. Some forms of public funding (technical cooperation and lending, notably by the EBRD) will play a continuing role.
107 new projects have been selected by the Commission for launching within the European Strategic Programme for Research and Development in Information Technology (ESPRIT). This is the result of a thorough evaluation by over 200 independent experts of the 450 submissions entered during ESPRITs latest general call for proposals. Also included are three projects forming part of the 18 - month start - up phase of JESSI (Joint European Sub Micron Silicon). JESSI is a Eureka initiative designed to strengthen Europes international competitiveness in the design, manufacture and application of a new generation of standard and customised microchips. In addition to the 107 new projects, 43 exploratory actions, comprising workshops, demonstrations and studies will be initiated to further increases the involvement of SMEs in the Esprit programme.
Negotiations are now starting with the companies, research institutes and universities involved, with the objective that work can start on most projects before the summer break.
Most of the projects are scheduled to be completed in three years or less, showing the dynamic European response to the accelerated pace of the international technology race. The total cost of the projects likely to result is about ECUS 690 million, half of which will be financed by the European Communities.
Meeting of the Development Cooperation Council
During a meeting held at the end of May in Brussels, the Council of European Development Cooperation Ministers pursued its discussions on the need to draw up guidelines enabling environmental considerations to be better integrated into development cooperation, and to devote specific and appropriate means to this task.
On the basis of the discussions held and of a paper provided by the Commission services, the Council reconfirmed the conclusions reached on 6 November 1984 and 9 November 1987 on the need to integrate environment and development and on the means to be used to this end.
The Council recognised that it is for each country to determine its broad environment policies. However, it confirmed that all projects and programmes financed by the Community and the Member States in whatever sector should take into account at all stages their effect on the environment.
This may entail specific environmental safeguards agreed in conjunction with developing countries on individual aid projects and programmes.
The Council underlined that the environmentally sound and sustainable management of natural resources is of fundamental importance to developing countries. It further recognised that the enforcement of sound environmental policies is made more difficult by the lack of adequate technical and financial resources and that these policies face a serious challenge from the rapid and concentrated growth of population. Soil erosion, desertification, deforestation, air and water pollution and rapid urbanisation, are amongst the most pressing environmental problems facing those countries. These issues represent real barriers to economic growth and sustainable development and are priorities for development assistance.