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EDITO
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
The ACP Council of Ministers met in Brussels from 5 to 8 December 2005 under the chairmanship of Hon. Roger Marie RAFANOMEZANTSOA, Minister of Industry, Trade and Private Sector Development of Madagascar, President-in-Office of the Council. Council also approved the recommendations on ACP positions and strategies in view of the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference, as submitted by the ACP Ministers of Trade who met on 29 November and 1 December 2005.
Issues discussed by the Council of Ministers included the following:
- WTO. Council endorsed the ACP Declaration and the recommendations submitted by the ACP Ministers of Trade for the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference.
- ACP Summit. In the framework of implementing the decision taken by the ACP Heads of State and Government at their 4th Summit held in Maputo, Mozambique in June 2004, to hold the 5th Summit in Sudan in 2006, Council decided that it would hold the 84th session of the Council of Ministers, as well as a joint meeting of the Council of Ministers and the ACP Foreign Affairs Ministers before the Summit. The dates for the 5th Summit will be set following consultation with the Government of Sudan.
- Textiles. Deeply concerned by the dismantling of the Multifibre Agreement at the end of 2004, which led to the closure of several textile and garment factories in ACP States, the Council of Ministers adopted a decision on textiles and clothing in which it appealed for the implementation of the commitments made by international donors to provide support to the ACP cotton sector. The Ministers called upon the European Union and Commission to set aside a specific allocation in the 10th EDF to finance the textile and clothing Facility for ACP countries.
- Cotton. Gravely concerned by the maintenance of domestic support and export subsidies granted to farmers in developed countries, the Ministers stressed the urgency of finding a solution to the cotton dossier at the WTO in order to give a positive signal of the real commitment of partners, so as to ensure that the current negotiating round is truly a development round, and contribute to negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda. The Ministers emphasized the fact that solutions sought under the African Cotton Initiative led by Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, should not only benefit the LDCs but include support for all ACP cotton-producing countries.
- Bananas. The Ministers reiterated their appeal to the European Union to designate bananas as a sensitive product in the current WTO negotiations in view of the liberalisation of trade in agricultural products. They expressed support for all the initiatives taken by the European Communities within the WTO to have the current waiver extended until 31 December 2007. The Council also asked the European Union to ensure that all efforts towards an agreement with MFN countries include real consultation with the countries, and that in the event of an arbitration process relating to the banana regime, the EU would support the right of the ACP countries to participate therein.
- Sugar. The Ministers called on the European Union to ensure that ACP sugar-supplying countries are not saddled with a disproportionate share of the cost of the EC sugar regime reform, and that the reform is implemented in full respect of the EU’s international obligations as defined in the ACP-EU Sugar Protocol, particularly guarantees regarding market access, intervention, indefinite duration and negotiated prices, as well as the possibility of exporting all types of sugar. They appealed to the European Commission to designate sugar as a sensitive product for the purposes of the negotiations on agricultural products under the Doha Work Programme and at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. Council also asked the EU to ensure that the modalities for implementing the new regime, particularly regarding the warning mechanism for the control of the volume of imports from LDCs, are specified in such a way as not to hamper legitimate LDC exports to the EU.
- Food Security. Informed that Malawi and other Southern African countries such as Mozambique and Lesotho are currently facing a severe food crisis due to inadequate rainfall, the Council of Ministers urged the development partners, particularly the EU, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, CTA and CDE, to provide aid to these countries in the form of food and medicaments. The Ministers also asked the countries affected to set up early-warning mechanisms relating to food security and drought forecasts in accordance with priorities defined in the framework of the ACP-EU Facility for Natural Disasters.
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Different needs, different responsibilities: what is the EU asking from Developing Countries?
Hong Kong, 14 December 2005
Doha is a Development Round. The EU is fully committed to the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries based on their individual needs and vulnerabilities. In every sector of the negotiations, the EU has shaped its requests to reflect the different needs of different developing countries.

However there is a wide range of capacities among developing countries - Brazil and Benin are not the same. Advanced Developing Countries like Brazil, China and India cannot be expected to make the same commitments as developed countries, but they are asked to make a contribution. The EU’s positions reflect the principle of "different needs, different responsibilities".

Least Developed Countries
The EU has proposed a Round for Free for the 49 Least Developed Countries in all areas of the negotiations: no obligatory tariff cuts, market access commitments or support reductions.
The EU only encourages LDCs to increase the number of tariff rates bound in Geneva.

"Small and vulnerable economies"
The EU recognises that some countries that are not LDCs can nevertheless not be expected to undertake the same level of commitments as larger and more competitive Advanced Developing Countries.
Although no precise technical definition for these economies has yet been agreed, proposed definitions are based on criteria such as geographical status (islands, landlocked or otherwise geographically disadvantaged countries), non-diversified export profiles, low GDP and other vulnerabilities.
Appropriate solutions for the particular problems of these countries will have to be determined for each country in each specific area of the negotiations. So this not a defined group of countries, but a concept that will help better reflect the different needs of each country in each negotiation.
In Agriculture, under the EU proposal, tariff cuts for small and vulnerable countries would be set at 2/3 of the level of those for developed countries, and the tariff bands would be 1/3 higher. The maximum tariff for these countries would be 150% rather than 100%.
In NAMA a small and vulnerable country will be asked to make no obligatory tariff cuts, market access commitments or support reductions. However the EU will ask that all tariffs are bound at reasonable levels at the WTO - preserving policy space to protect growing industry.
In Services, a small and vulnerable country would be asked to make contributions based on its capacity.

Advanced Developing Countries
These include the large emerging economies of the G20, who combine developing country status with high competitiveness in one or more export sector, such as Brazil (Agriculture), China (Manufacturing) and India (Services). These countries have the potential to benefit.
The EU is offering considerable flexibility for these economies in the market access commitments accepted by developed countries.
The EU is asking that all Advanced Developing Countries offer tariff and quota free market access for all Least Developed Countries.
In Agriculture, under the EU proposal, tariff cuts for advanced developing countries would be set at 2/3 of the level of those for developed countries, and the tariff bands would be 1/3 higher. The maximum tariff for developing countries would be 150% rather than 100%.
In Agriculture, the EU has asked for support from these countries in improving protection of Geographical Indications. This is an important issue for producers of GI produce in advanced developing countries (eg: Indian Jasmin Tea or Basmati Rice or Brazilian Valhe dos Vinhedos wine).
In NAMA, The EU is also fully committed to less-than-full reciprocity in commitments. Advanced Developed Countries have the possibility to choose between excluding some products from tariff cuts or reducing proposed cuts by up to 50%.
In NAMA, the EU is also proposing longer implementation periods for market access obligations accepted by Advanced Developing Countries.
In Services, the EU is looking for a substantial contribution taking into account their level of development.
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Wednesday, 14 December 2005
Council adoption of the EU Strategy for Africa marks new era in Euro-African relations
The European Commission welcomed the endorsement today by the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the EU Strategy for Africa. This ambitious long term plan marks an important milestone in EU-Africa relations and will boost Africa’s sustainable development. Discussions with African states and organisations are starting now about turning this strategy into concrete projects, in order to increase stability, boost economic growth and reduce poverty.
The adoption of the EU Strategy for Africa, proposed by the European Commission on 12 October 2005, marks the culmination of a year where the international community and, more particularly, the EU has put the focus on Africa. But this decision is not the end of the process; it has rather to be seen as the beginning of a new kind of partnership between the EU and Africa. The Strategy marks a step change in the way the EU deals with the African continent.
”Today, Europe has given a clear signal that we are serious about changing the way we talk, work and cooperate with Africa. Our partnership is based on a strong political dialogue between equal partners. We must avoid a paternalistic approach: we are not there to substitute States but enhance their capacities, promoting ownership and good governance”, said Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel.
At last week’s ministerial conference in Bamako, the EU and African Union’s troikas agreed on a process to translate the Strategy into concrete actions. Commissioner Michel emphasized that he would ensure that the commitments would be implemented in time. To this end, he agreed with the African Union to establish a joint matrix. He underlined the need to have as soon as possible ‘a scoreboard with clear time-bound projects, identifying precisely who does what’.
From the beginning of 2006, Commission officials will intensify the preparations to put in place the different initiatives proposed under the Strategy:
- The Euro-African Partnership for Infrastructure and Networks, promoting regional and continental interconnection at continental level to support regional integration.
- The EU Governance Initiative, providing assistance for the implementation of the governance reforms proposed by the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
- The Euro-African Business Forum, bringing together entrepreneurs and public and private investors from both Europe and Africa
- The Nyerere programme, for the exchange of students and the promotion of poles of excellence across the continent.
The European Union has today announced further substantial commitments to providing Trade Related Assistance (TRA) to developing countries. Last night the EU Council of Ministers, comprising the twenty-five EU Member States, committed to provide 1 billion euros a year in TRA from 2010. This is a substantial increase from the 400 million per year currently provided by European Member States. It matches the 1 billion euros per year from 2007 pledged by the European Commission at the Gleneagles summit this year. It means that total EU Trade Related Assistance will rise to 2 billion euros from 2010. These packages do not include existing funding for African infrastructure – roads, energy and water. The European Commission alone provides about 800 million euros a year through its African infrastructure funds. The funds announced today are additional to this support. EU Member States also provide separate funding for infrastructure.
The European Commission is the largest Trade Related Assistance provider in the world. Trade Related Assistance is used to help states build the capacity to take advantage of market access. It provides funds to help improve administrative procedures and help producers develop the capacity to meet health and safety standards for export. TRA cannot substitute for the benefits of market opening, but it is essential in order to help the poorest states realise concrete benefits from new market access.
Tuesday, 13 December 2005
FAO and the European Commission present online Export Helpdesk: Facilitating market access for developing countries to the EU

FAO and the European Commission today presented the EC’s Online Export Helpdesk for developing countries to FAO member countries at FAO’s Rome headquarters. "This project will contribute to strengthening the strategic partnership between FAO and the EC. In the context of our planned cooperation on commodities and trade facilitation, it represents an important step forward," said Alexander Sarris, Director of FAO’s Commodities and Trade Division.
In his presentation, Matthew Baldwin, Acting Director in the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission, said: "The Export Helpdesk is a clear demonstration of the EC’s determination to help developing countries in their efforts to integrate further into the global economy. They deserve a fair chance to compete in the EU market, and our Helpdesk is designed to give them just that: a series of practical measures to help developing country exporters benefit properly from our preferential trade programme."
The Export Helpdesk was initially launched in February 2004 with the goal of enhancing the economic growth of developing countries by facilitating the access of their exporters to the EU market. The online service has been providing free and comprehensive information to exporters from developing countries on how to export a product into the EU.
Confirmation of the importance of the Export Helpdesk for developing countries’ exporters is provided by the impressive statistics of its use: it has been receiving an average of nearly 3, 500 visitors per day so far this year. In addition, 140-160 questions have been received per month by the contact section and an average of 100-120 offers and demands have been published per month in the market place section.
The Export Helpdesk provides the following information online:
- EU and Member States’ import requirements and internal taxes applying in each Member State for each particular product (Requirements and taxes section);
- EU preferential import regimes for the benefit of developing countries (Import tariffs, Customs documents and Rules of origin sections);
- Trade data for the EU and its individual Member States (Statistics section);
- A "Market Place" where exporters in developing countries can establish contacts with importers from the EU (Market Place section);
- Links to EU and Member State authorities and international organizations involved in practical trade operations and trade promotion (Links section);
- Possibility to lodge detailed information requests about real-life situations encountered by exporters