Tuesday, December 16, 2008

can free trade save Congo?

Lately I've been reading the UN Dispatch blog, which is very interesting.

Here's an idea they suggest, by way of Herman Cohen: establish a multinational free trade zone including Congo and its neighbors, so that Rwandan businesses can still exploit Congolese resources, but they'll just pay taxes to Kinshasa rather than Kigali.

I'd like to think this is a brilliant idea. There are a couple of issues though, starting with what incentive Kigali has to agree to a scheme where Rwandan businesses pay tax revenue to Kigali's arch-rivals? The other concern is that many bad actors in Congo have simply expropriated mines and other sources of profit in eastern Congo. Will the Hutu militias or rogue generals who control these resources voluntarily give them away? And if not, who is going to take them away? Or will they just keep them? And if they do, how will it be different from the present?

Still, worth exploring.

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