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African Union Works to Increase Trade

Hello and welcome to As It Is, from VOA LearningEnglish! I’m Faith Lapidus in Washington.

On the show today, the United Nations has called onpoor countries to re-think their economic policies.

But first, we hear about efforts to increase trade amongmember countries of the African Union. Bob Doughtyhas our report.

African Union Works to Increase Trade

The African Union has held countless meetings andconferences on how to increase trade between Africancountries. The United Nations Economic Commissionfor Africa has organized similar gatherings. Yet these efforts have failed tolead to an increase in intra-Africa trade.

Currently, African countries do only 11 percent of their foreign trade with othercountries on the continent. By comparison, Asian countries do 50 percent oftheir trade with Asian countries.

This past July, a UN report urged African governments to provide moresupport to private businesses, reduce trade barriers and expand publicservices.

The slow progress makes it difficult for companies to do business insurrounding countries.

Jittu Horticulture PLC is Ethiopia’s biggest exporter of horticulture products. The company’s general manager, Jans Prins, says Ethiopia has hugepossibilities for trade. But he says there are too many difficulties whenattempting to trade with neighboring countries.

“The major challenge is to reach these markets. It can either be logisticproblems like over-flooded border areas, bad roads or no roads, tradebarriers, political issues or security issues. For Ethiopia, it’s very difficult toreach markets in the surrounding countries.”

Problems getting visas, corruption, and high transportation costs are some of the barriers companies face when they attempt to trade within the continent. A truck in Africa will travel, on average, just nine kilometers an hour becauseof the many security or inspection stations. As a result, 40 percent of the costof a product is for transportation.

Intra-Africa trade -- both imports and exports -- totaled $131 billion in 2011.

African Union countries have agreed to make the continent a free-trade zoneby 2017. Treasure Maphanga is the director of the AU’s Trade and IndustryDepartment. She says governments must make that goal of a continentalfree-trade area a reality.

“I see that in many countries there is a political will that exists at a certainlevel. Intra-African trade does not just depend on one ministry. It does not justdepend on the head of state. It depends on the whole government machinery, and coordinating towards a specific goal.”

I’m Bob Doughty.

You are listening to As It Is, from VOA Learning English. I’m Faith Lapidus.

UN Urges New Ideas to Help Least Developed Countries

A United Nations report says the world’s poorest countries should re-thinktheir economic policies because they are failing to create jobs for theircitizens. The UN Conference on Trade and Development is warning thatcurrent policies will not do a lot to reduce poverty because so few jobs arebeing created. Our economics reporter, Mario Ritter, has more on the story.

The UN report warns of social unrest and growing numbers of immigrants ifthe employment situation in these countries does not improve.

Taffere Tesfachew is with the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Hesays a new way of thinking is needed. He says no one questions the need foreconomic growth. But that growth needs to create jobs.

“But I think the question is - perhaps there is a way you grow and createemployment, and there is a way you grow you do not create employment. The policies followed by many least developed countries and those especiallywhich did not create employment while there is a need to create employment.”

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have called for economicstability and liberalization policies for poor and undeveloped countries. Butthese policies have failed to create many jobs, even during the period ofeconomic expansion from 2002 to 2008. During that period, many leastdeveloped countries grew each year at rate of eight percent or more.

The United Nations has identified 49 “least developed countries.” Thirty-fourare in Africa.

There are nine others in Asia, five in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean.

Almost all of these countries face rising numbers of men and women enteringthe labor market. By 2050, the number of young people seeking jobs isexpected to rise to 300 million.

Taffere Tesfachew says countries should invest in labor-intensive industriessuch as manufacturing to create jobs for the millions of unemployed.

“We really believe that infrastructural transformation, countries that aremoving, jumping from agriculture to services, bypassing manufacturing, I thinkthey will have a problem. The manufacturing sector, the industrial sector, inparticularly manufacturing, is I think critical for countries with large population.”

In the UN report, a country was considered a “least developed” when personalincome is below $992 on a three-year average. The report also consideredthe economic problems each nation faced, and its rating on the HumanAssets Index. The index measures issues like health, nutrition, schoolenrollment and literacy rates.

I’m Mario Ritter.

That’s our show for today. I’m Faith Lapidus. Join us again tomorrow foranother As It Is from VOA Learning English.

内容来自 VOA英语学习网https://www.chinavoa.com/show-8246-229475-1.html
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