Rising nationalist tendencies and protectionism world-wide are cause for concern. African countries therefore need to reinforce cooperation between them, contends Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo.

The minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 36th regional course held by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Increasing nationalism and protectionism, Lutchmeenaraidoo feels, will hinder the full realisation of the Agenda 2063 set by the African Union. While he suggests that politicians should take heed of the people’s wishes, African countries have more to gain if regional integration is reinforced, he suggests. Adding the Mauritius example of the Asia-Africa corridor as a way for all parties to benefit from such initiatives.

The UNCTAD regional course is a training program is aimed at academics and policymakers, explains Guillermo Valles, Director of the UNCTAD Division of International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities. Participants share best practices and take stock of current trades “in order to make trade an instrument for development and for growth”.

He shares Lutchmeenaraidoo’s point of view. Saying that at UN level, nationalist tendencies are “a matter of concern” not in line with a sustainable agenda. “If we continue with this kind of nationalist, protectionist kind of approach, we will certainly leave many behind”, Guillermo Valles contends.