Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell speaks for Africa’s 1 billion people when he writes “the world is moving to a freer trading regime, protectionism is declining and discredited” (A plea to fellow Tories: let’s not relive the Maastricht years, 22 February). No continent is more desperate for a freer trading regime than Africa. Yet, despite their rhetoric about supporting Africa, no other continental bloc administers a more comprehensive trade protection against Africa than the European Union.
The EU common agriculture policy enables, if not compels, EU farmers to dump their excess but cheap farm produce on African markets, thus forcing African farmers to sell their products at a loss or leave the market altogether. And, while pushing for ever more foreign aid to Africa, the EU also imposes stiff tariffs on African agricultural imports, thus making it impossible for Africa to trade itself out of poverty. The result is the vicious cycle of poverty, war, famine, diseases and refugee exodus we are witnessing today. Last year alone, some 5,000 African men, women and children lost their lives in the Mediterranean trying to come to Europe in search of a better life. Granted, corruption and human rights abuse are additional push factors. But this scale of human tragedies was unheard of before the trading European Economic Community became the superstate which is the EU.