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Africa seeks Europe-style trade bloc

Updated: 2013-01-04 09:39
By Andrew Moody and Zhong Nan ( China Daily)

Africa seeks Europe-style trade bloc

Chinese investment has had a transformative effect on Ghana, says minister

Hanna Tetteh, Ghana's minister for trade and industry, says China is an important partner for Africa's development but not the most vital one.

She says while the relationship with the world's second-largest economy has been a key factor, it will be building ties with other African countries - and forming a European Union-style trading bloc - that will prove the essential long-term driver of economic growth.

"The China-Africa relationship is a very important one. There is no doubt about that. But from where I sit, the relationship that we need to give prominence to is the African relationship.

"One of the reasons why China and Asia are successful is that they do so much trade with each other. By comparison the trade African countries do with each other is much smaller. For Ghana, 12 percent of our trade is with the rest of Africa whereas the average for the continent is 10 percent."

Tetteh, 45 and half-Hungarian, was speaking during a break at an investment forum in the International Conference Centre in Accra before her country's recent presidential elections.

She insists China is a role model for African countries when it comes to its economic transformation and speed of development, but she expects countries like Ghana to follow a different path.

The country had one of the fastest GDP growth rates in the world, at more than 20 percent in 2011 according to the IMF, but this has been built partly by moving from agriculture to services.

Ghana appears to be bypassing the reliance China had on exporting inexpensive manufactured goods in its early-stage development. Accra itself is emerging as one of the major financial services hubs of western Africa.

"We have moved from agrarian to mixed. Manufacturing is not out of the equation but it is only part of the economy," she says.

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