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Museveni said disunity was greatest source of Africa’s weakness

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the greatest enemy of Africa, the greatest source of weakness, was disunity and low level of political and economic integration.  

He was speaking at the first COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite summit which called for the merger of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community, to form the largest trading bloc in Africa.

Leaders of 26 African countries agreed in Kampala to begin work on establishing a new economic community to compete more effectively in the global economy.

President Robert Mugabe attended the summit but did not speak.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08KAMPALA1431, AFRICAN LEADERS LAUNCH CONTINENT’S LARGEST ECONOMIC

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08KAMPALA1431

2008-10-24 08:48

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Kampala

VZCZCXRO3130

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN RUEHROV

DE RUEHKM #1431/01 2980848

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 240848Z OCT 08

FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0820

INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE

RUCNSAD/SADC COLLECTIVE

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 001431

 

STATE FOR AF/EPS POTASH AND DAVIDSON; EBB/TPP FOR LURIE

STATE PASS TO USTR FOR HAMILTON AND JACKSON

ALSO PASS TO USAID AFR/EA

TREASURY FOR VIRGINIA BRANDON

 

SENSITIVE

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECIN ETRD EINV ECON PGOV XA

SUBJECT: AFRICAN LEADERS LAUNCH CONTINENT’S LARGEST ECONOMIC

COMMUNITY

 

1. (SBU) Summary: The leaders of 26 African countries agreed in

Kampala on October 22 to begin work establishing a new economic

community to compete more effectively in the global economy. The

joint declaration of the First COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit

calls for a merger of the three economic communities, making it the

largest trading bloc in Africa. The leaders established a task

force to conduct a six-month study to determine the mechanisms and

timing for the creation of a single economic entity in east and

southern Africa. International observers are taking a wait-and-see

attitude, but the African leaders present expressed optimism that

though there will be winners and losers, all members will benefit

over the long term from increased inter-regional trade and more

leverage in the global economy. Countries will be able to determine

when they join the merged community, which might help persuade

hesitant states to sign on at a later date. End Summary.

 

———————–

FROM CAIRO TO CAPE TOWN

———————–

 

2. (U) The 26 member states of the Common Market of East and

Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the

Southern African Development Community (SADC) met in Kampala on

October 22 under the auspices of the first COMESA-EAC-SADC

Tripartite Conference. The African leaders’ objective is to boost

trade and attract investment across Africa by creating one economic

union from three existing bodies with overlapping membership. A

communique issued at the summit stated the countries would work

“toward a merger into a single regional economic community with the

objective of fast tracking the attainment of the African economic

community.” The three blocks represent countries from Cairo to Cape

Town with a combined population of 527 million and a total GDP of

$624 billion. Leaders pledged to begin work immediately.

 

3. (U) The community would include a free trade zone and customs

union, coordinate on high priority infrastructure, and develop joint

positions in the negotiation of free trade deals. Current COMESA

Chairperson and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki stressed that the

agreement was “truly historic” because the summit was the first time

the three blocs had held a meeting to discuss wider economic

integration efforts. “By ourselves, our countries are not equipped

to compete at the global level,” he said.

 

4. (U) The leaders believe that a merged economic community will

increase levels of international trade within Africa and harmonize

African interaction in the global economy. A task force will carry

out a six-month study of the merger mechanisms and develop a roadmap

for the integration. Observers at the meeting said an agreement

envisioned in the study would likely include a provision allowing

countries to join the economic union at their own speed, in a

process similar to that of the European Union in order to prevent

skeptics from slowing integration. The agreement would also include

coordinated development of infrastructure and aim to allow free

movement of labor between signatory countries.

 

5. (U) The merged community would develop harmonized positions

toward the World Trade Organization and other trade agreements. A

tripartite “Council of Ministers” will convene in one year to

determine the time-frame for implementation of the free trade zone.

Participants called on member states to speed development of joint

financial systems, capital markets, and commodity exchanges.

According to the declaration, the three blocs will work to remove

barriers from international air travel and build an inter-regional

broadband Internet network, making it less expensive to do business

within Africa. The three blocs also resolved to coordinate plans

for regional transport networks and energy infrastructure within 12

months.

 

———————————

MULTIPLE, OVERLAPPING MEMBERSHIPS

———————————

 

6. (U) The new body would remove confusion caused by countries’

current multiple and overlapping memberships in the three

organizations. The members of the three bodies are as follows:

 

— The 19 countries of COMESA are Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea,

Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo,

 

KAMPALA 00001431 002 OF 002

 

 

Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Mauritius,

Seychelles, Comoros, and Madagascar.

 

— The five countries of the EAC are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,

Rwanda and Burundi.

 

— The 14 states of the Free Trade Area (FTA) of the SADC are

Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique,

Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola

and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

 

———————-

LEADERS HAIL AGREEMENT

———————-

 

7. (U) The chairpersons of the three organizations hailed the

agreement. In his statement, Kenya’s President Kibaki said that any

decision was “bound to have an effect on the entire continent,

broadening economic cooperation at the continental level.” Current

EAC Chairperson and Rwandan President Paul Kagame added that

multiple and overlapping memberships in economic groups were

damaging competitiveness. “There is no doubt about the benefits of

further regional economic integration,” he emphasized. Ugandan

President Yoweri Museveni put the agreement in historical context.

“The greatest enemy of Africa, the greatest source of weakness, has

been our disunity and low level of political and economic

integration,” he argued. Other heads of state at the meeting were

South African President and Chairperson of the SADC Kgalema

Motlanthe; Tanzanian President and current African Union Chairman

Jakaya Kiwete; and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Of the heads

of state present at the opening ceremony, only Mugabe did not

speak.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (SBU) The lofty rhetoric at the meeting notwithstanding,

significant challenges remain for the three organizations to

harmonize the needs of members and move forward with this

initiative. International observers and delegates at the meeting

admitted progress would take time and noted the traditional

political challenges in getting such a diverse group of countries to

move forward together, including the fear of domination by larger

economies such as Egypt and South Africa. The consensus, however,

is that a larger economic union was needed and that the provisions

to allow a small group of countries to join first and pave the way

for skeptics to join at a later date were critical. This would

ensure that countries such as South Africa, which is allegedly

unhappy that it is not in a leadership position to shape the

initiative, cannot hold up progress by remaining outside the union.

End Comment.

BROWNING

 

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