COMESA rues over new tobacco guidelines

20:14, December 07, 2010      

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Africa's largest trading block has said guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control poses a threat to the livelihood of millions in Africa, the Post of Zambia reported on Tuesday.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) said in reaction to the new WHO tobacco trade guidelines that African nations will be "severely affected".

"The guidelines to articles 9 and 10 of the tobacco control convention propose a ban on ingredients necessary for the production of blended tobacco products, which constitute about 50 percent of world demand. Such a ban would decimate the demand for burley tobacco and, the economies of burley-producing countries would be severely affected," the organization's secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya was quoted as saying by the paper.

A recent independent economic impact study estimates that more than 12 million Africans could be negatively affected by such a ban and that economies of countries such as Malawi will shrink by 20 percent, according to the Post.

According to Ngwenya, Africa requires more trade than aid to propel its economies onto a sustained developmental path and to end its shackling dependence, adding that the curtailing of tobacco production in Africa would condemn producing countries to deeper poverty and greater dependence on countries such as Canada and the European Union that are pushing the tobacco control convention guidelines.

He further said the result of the tobacco control convention would fuel the growth of the black market, which is already a problem on the African continent.

Currently, Africa enjoys just 3.5 percent of global trade and 2.5 percent of global gross domestic product.

Source: Xinhua


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