Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Friday, 25 May 2018
Port Louis, Mauritius, 9 February 2006
The Ministers of Trade of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region and the EU Commissioner for Trade met on 9 February 2006 in Mauritius. Both sides agreed that the EPA is an instrument at the service of ESA countries development. To achieve that objective, a comprehensive approach is needed, tackling traditional development issues (supply side constraints) and trade issues at the same time. Trade related issues will help establish the regulatory framework necessary for development to happen.
Taking stock of the progress made so far, both parties acknowledged that negotiations have gained speed since September 2005. This momentum must be maintained and even accelerated, if the set deadline of end 2007 is to be met.
In terms of substance, significant convergence has been recognized in a number of areas such as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. It was agreed that agriculture is a key sector for the development of ESA countries. Due consideration will be given to issues like food security, the situation of net food importing countries, and capacity building for SPS measures. Being at the heart of the EPA process, discussions on development issues will continue. The programming of financial assistance, both at national and regional level, will have to go hand in hand with the negotiation process. Fisheries will be further discussed at technical level, on the basis of papers submitted by both sides.
Market access is a key issue on which further work is needed. The European side is committed to consider asymmetry to the maximum extent possible, be it for tariff dismantling or other technical issues such as rules of origin. Rules of origin will be revised in order to simplify them and make them less costly and less cumbersome to implement. On tariffs, the EC insisted that the starting point for reciprocal dismantling should be a common external tariff for the ESA EPA group. The objective is to have a single simple trade regime. ESA indicated that they are working on various options, and it is agreed that it is not a formal precondition to conclude and EPA. It was agreed that SPA should note become a technical barrier to trade but rather a tool providing ACP exporters with better access to the EU market. Trade defence instruments will have to be included in the EPA and it is in this area where there could be an early harvest in the negotiating process.
Speaking today in Port Louis, Mauritius to an audience of African Trade Ministers, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has called on ACP and G90 developing countries to play a key role in the ongoing DDA trade negotiations.
Mandelson urged the G90 to define their own interests in the Doha Round and assert the importance of recognising the differing interests of different developing countries and not be "swept along by others with different economic interests." "The different interests of developing countries have to be recognised in the DDA. Hong Kong brought out these divergences... Between the rapidly emerging economies without tariff preferences and the G-90 with them; between those who want aggressive liberalisation - in agriculture, at least - and those, like Mauritius and similar developing countries, who need a greater comfort zone to adjust gradually to global trade, increased competition and reduced preferences… Recognising these differences is not an attempt to "divide and rule"... differentiation between developing countries is a moral imperative that will help development, not impede it. So let us do away with the politically correct fallacy that developing countries are all alike and have the same interests. The G20 and the G90 do not have identical interests and capacities in trade... But that also requires on your part a willingness to assert your own demands, rather than be swept along by others with different economic interests."
Mandelson argued that boosting African trade meant new market access with developing countries. He urged ACP countries to pressure larger developing countries:
"South-South trade is already 40% of developing countries’ exports. But barriers are still high. 70% of duties paid today by developing countries are paid to other developing countries, chiefly on industrial not agricultural goods because industrial goods are where the bulk of their trade takes place. Small countries like Mauritius and most of sub Saharan Africa can profit handsomely from selling more to big countries like Brazil, India or South Africa. That is why we need to encourage the G20 countries to open their markets more. In Europe, which is already the receiving market of 75% of LDC agricultural products, we are ready to open our market even more. And we are putting pressure on the US, and others in the developed world, to do the same. But we are also putting friendly but firm pressure on big developing countries to open their markets to agriculture, industrial goods and services. Help us to do that, in a reasonable and proportionate way."
Saturday, 11 February 2006
Aid for whom?: Making sure Food Aid helps the hungry
In the Hong-Kong ministerial declaration WTO members committed to eliminating all forms of export subsidies and to disciplining all export measures with equivalent effect in 2013. The US will be required to reform its delivery of Food Aid. The US currently uses its Food Aid system to offload agricultural surpluses, benefiting US farmers and transportation companies rather than targeting Food Aid where it is really needed by providing assistance in cash.
The EU does not question the granting of genuine emergency food aid - in any form, cash or kind. The US has repeatedly caricatured the EU position as endangering the humanitarian interests of those in need - but the EU’s insistence that the needs of the hungry are best served by assistance in cash, rather than food itself, is clearly borne out by the facts. Although Food Aid in kind can be crucial in critical emergency situations, it is common sense that food aid "in kind" which has to be bought in the donor market and then shipped to the site of a food emergency is an extremely inefficient way to help people in need. By the time food reaches its destination, four to five months will have been lost. This food "aid" is often simply surplus US production and can seriously disrupt local markets and the livelihood of local farmers, who could be paid for their own produce. When Food Aid is simply dumped farm surpluses it is not targeted to the needs of the hungry people it purports to help.
A recent OECD study suggests that aid shipped in form of food costs up to 50% more to deliver than cash. Other research has shown that about 60% of the budget for food aid actually stays in the United States, in the pockets of farmers and transport companies. In 2003, the US spent $2.6 billion on food aid, all procured on the US market and provided with US logistics. The US Food Aid programme represents up to 20% of US wheat exports and more than 50% of non-fat dried milk exports. In 2004 all developed countries provided Food Aid to the UN World Food Programme in cash - except the United States. The World Food Programme funding policy clearly states: "The ideal contribution is one that is multilateral and predictable, given early in the donor’s fiscal year without requirements as to its use, preferably in cash." What the EU is advocating is exactly that: food aid in cash and untied. That means that NGOs and international organisations would receive money to procure food in the way they judge best. As there would be no conditions linked to the use of this money, they would be free to purchase the commodities really needed, where procurement is cost-efficient, and where it is the most convenient to ensure they reach hungry people in the fastest possible way. The money saved on transportation costs by purchasing locally means more money to spend on food supplies. It also supports the local economy and improves the livelihood of poor farmers. Food Aid resources should be administered in a flexible manner by credible NGOs and UN Agencies. The EU has absolutely no intention of limiting genuine emergency food aid. The EU has clearly insisted that WTO members commit themselves to maintaining an adequate level of food aid. Reform of Food Aid means untying food aid from the commercial interests of exporters. In the US, food aid is part of agricultural policy. This is food aid tailored for the interests of American farmers, not the interests of hungry people. Untying food aid from the commercial interests of removes the problem of trade distortion and makes food aid far more effective to the benefit of recipient countries.
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The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel and the President of the European Investment Bank, Philippe Maystadt, signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for the creation of a Trust Fund in support of infrastructure in Africa. The Trust Fund is a financial instrument of the EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure, one of the pillars of the new EU Strategy for Africa proposed by the Commission and approved by the European Council in December 2005. In the start-up phase (2006-2007) the Commission intends to mobilise up to € 60 million in grants and the EIB up to € 260 million in loans for the operation of the Fund. Participation in the Trust Fund is open to EU Member States, their Development agencies and financial institutions. Infrastructure is key element for sustainable development, economic growth and poverty reduction, in line with the Millennium Development Goals. There can be no stable growth without a strong network of infrastructure for transport, energy, water and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Launching this new initiative for Development in Africa, Commissioner Michel said: “This is an innovative tool that can really make the difference and support a long awaited African request. No single donor can face the enormous challenge of financing the basic infrastructure of the Continent. Therefore we must joint our efforts, everyone from his competence. I invite all Member States to channel a substantial amount within their recent commitments to increase aid into this ambitious project.” The Trust Fund addresses the strong African demand for infrastructure to boost trade and growth. Its priorities for intervention are trans-African networks for transport, energy, water, and ICT. “Ownership” by its beneficiaries is a key principle of this initiative and, therefore, African partners and institutions are associated closely to the process. It is estimated that current investment in infrastructure in Africa needs to be doubled with an initial increase of € 8 billion per year until 2010, rising to € 16 billion for the following five years. Making available these large amounts will require not only an increase of the Official Development Aid grant money, but also the effective application of lending strategies by development financial institutions and mobilisation of private capital.In October 2005, the Commission’s Communication on the new EU Strategy for Africa identified limited access to transport, communication, water, sanitation and energy services as major constraints to economic growth. To improve that situation, the Commission proposed an EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure to improve inter-connectivity, to facilitate regional integration and to promote “South-South trade”. The selection of projects will be done in consideration with the priorities listed by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Members of European Parliament have backed calls for more pharmaceutical funding to be diverted to research on tropical diseases. During a public hearing on Wednesday in the European parliament, scientists and medical professionals told euro deputies that 35,000 people die every day from infectious diseases. And MEPs were informed that research and pharmaceutical production for diseases such as Leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and chagas disease are largely being ignored. Less than one per cent of the approximately 1400 new medicines developed over the last 25 years were created to combat tropical diseases.
Almost half of worldwide funding on drug development is financed by public funds, MEPs were told, yet around 90 per cent of pharmaceutical research funding is spent on diseases which account for only ten per cent of the lost health years of life worldwide.
“We must get ready for a new public-private partnership; politicians must have their say to make sure more funds are available to deal with the problem.”
Tido Von Schoen-Angerer, of Medecins Sans Frontiere, told MEPs that “neglected diseases do not represent a commercially viable market for multinationals.”
“That is why an overwhelming majority of those affected throughout the world do not have access to safe, affordable diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.”
And the experts urged the EU to include neglected diseases in the upcoming seventh Research Framework Programme.
“So far, the EU has launched initiatives focusing only on HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, the big three” said DNDi’s Els Torreele. The seventh framework programme is an opportunity for immediate action; its mechanisms should be more flexible to include neglected diseases.”
Rural populatiosn are the most affected by lack of health care.
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